Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in

D. Final Thoughts

While the book contains several excellent leadership techniques that leaders in various industries should follow, the book does have several weaknesses. First, the foundational source for the book, Smith's basketball program, is not the ideal model upon which to apply the business leadership principles the authors want to develop because most leaders face a much wider variety of challenges than a college athletics coach. Further, except for the owners themselves, business leaders rarely have the autonomy or the authority that a head coach at a major university has to implement their leadership strategies. The coach holds virtually all the "cards" with regard to scholarships and playing time which allows him to influence and motivate players in ways not available to most leaders. (41)

Next, the leadership strategies required for a few hours a day over a six-month basketball season are somewhat different than the longer term strategies needed for a long-term, 365 days a year business. Finally, in the business application section i of each chapter's leadership principal, Bell appropriately uses numerous anecdotes from the corporate world to support each point. However, Bell rarely identifies the specific name of a leader or company in his examples, referring to them only in the abstract such as "a vice president of sales in a pharmaceutical company with large sales force ..., (42) and "I know a CEO that...." (43) These vague references prevent the investigative-minded reader from testing the validity of the Bell's assertions with regard to these anecdotes. (44)

Despite these weaknesses, the authors effectively translate Smith's coaching philosophy and leadership principles to a wide variety of business challenges. The authors cover several helpful leadership concepts such as identifying ways to effectively deal with the varying personalities, backgrounds, and agendas that the people in one's organization bring with them, as opposed to simply implementing a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic management system. Thought-provoking and entertaining, The Carolina Way's readers will be better equipped to handle their own personal leadership challenges. The reader will also come away with a tremendous appreciation and respect for Dean Smith as a leader and coach, but more importantly, one will acquire an appreciation of him as a human being who has positively influenced generations of young men.

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