Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching

C. Part V: Lessons Learned

Failing to provide any significant "lessons learned," this part of the book should more aptly have been titled, Other Stuff Unrelated to the "Carolina Way. '" In fact, the whole part could have been discarded because it added little to the authors' thesis. The last chapter, titled "Hopes for the Future," is a particularly unnecessary and distracting chapter in this otherwise engaging book. In "Hopes for the Future," Smith rambles on about such varied topics as a proposition to pay college players a stipend, fighting the war on poverty, abolishing the death penalty, and improving the social status of teachers. (38) While all these may be valid subjects worthy of debate, their undeveloped placement in a leadership book is completely inappropriate. Unfortunately, following Smith's ramble, Bell decides to add several of his own unrelated, unsubstantiated, and unproven musings. Even when he actually references leadership principles in the last part of this chapter, Bell does not develop the brand new leadership topics he raises. (39)

While this part of the book is generally disappointing, one very valuable portion is the chapter on Smith's experience as coach of the 1976 Men's Olympic Basketball Team. Unlike his treatment of his job at North Carolina, where he viewed the process and individual development of his players as his primary objectives, his only goal as coach of the Olympic team was to win. (40) This chapter discusses the different leadership skills necessary to lead a makeshift organization to success in a very limited amount of time. This chapter is especially applicable for military environments, particularly in an age of transformation, where different teams of people are being put together at various times to accomplish critical, but often short-term, missions. While completely independent of Coach Smith's true "Carolina Way" philosophy, this is a critical chapter in the book because in many situations, such as combat or professional business, winning is the primary goal and Smith's general coaching philosophies do not address such a concept.

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