Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching
Introduction life skill coach

Play hard," play together; play smart. (3)

This simple, three-term phrase constituted Dean Smith's entire coaching philosophy during his remarkable thirty-six year career as the head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina. (4) Smith's philosophy of "play hard; play smart; play together" is presented in this book as the "Carolina Way." (5) Throughout the book, Smith strips down this already simple coaching philosophy and defines good leadership as simply caring about people. (6) This deeply held belief and practice of Smith's proves to be the message of The Carolina Way--even more so than Smith's coaching philosophy itself. The Carolina Way offers leaders, aspiring leaders, college basketball fans, and mere supporters of human decency an inside look at the means and methods Smith used to become a premier coach, teacher, and leader. As such, it is a highly recommended read.

Smith's thesis is that good leadership qualities are transferable from one occupation to another. (7) This thesis was apparently not one that Smith thought consciously of during his coaching career and seems mainly attributable to co-author Gerald Bell (8) and book contributor John Kilgo. (9) However, Smith generally accepts their idea and develops it throughout the book.

The authors use a compelling three-pronged approach to support their thesis. Each chapter begins with Smith detailing some aspect of his coaching philosophy, including personal anecdotes about his success or failure in implementing that particular aspect of his philosophy. Smith follows each of those entries with powerful and often emotional testimonials from former players or others associated with the program. (10) As Smith astutely points out, his players "were students in the classroom known as North Carolina basketball, and their observations provide the thread that ties the entire book together in a way that would otherwise be impossible." (11) Following the testimonials, Bell applies a business perspective to each of Smith's coaching philosophies. Though the book is primarily credited to Smith, the book is driven by this application of Bell's business perspectives to Smith's coaching philosophies.

The authors break the book into five parts--The Foundations; Playing Hard; Playing Together; Playing Smart; and Lessons Learned. The middle three parts of the book deal with the tripartite elements of Smith's coaching philosophy and are similar to each other in their structure. However, the first and last parts differ substantially in both their structure and focus and are reviewed independently from the middle three pans. Each part of the book has individual chapters and each chapter is presented in the three-part style discussed above--Smith's presentation of his philosophy in action, personal testimonials, and business applications and anecdotes.

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1 comment:

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