Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching

A. Part One: Introduction and The Foundations of life skill coach

In the book's first chapter, Smith introduces the reader to his personal background. Smith grew up in the Midwest as the son of a father who was a high school sports coach and a mother who was a teacher. (12) He also briefly reviews his basketball career beginning when he was a player at the University of Kansas and then an assistant coach at the Air Force Academy and the University of North Carolina before accepting the head coaching position at the University of North Carolina in 1961. (13)

Still in the first part of the book, Smith first introduces the reader to the broad details of his philosophy in the second chapter, titled "Play Hard; Play Together; Play Smart." (14) "Hard meant with effort, determination, and courage; together meant unselfishly, trusting your teammates, and doing everything possible not to let them down; and smart meant with good execution and poise, treating each possession as if it were the only one in the game." (15) In this chapter Smith discusses how and why he taught his players his philosophy. (16) Smith recognized that occasionally his teams would have bad luck or face a particularly good team or player on their best night, but he believed that if his teams simply concentrated on those things within their control, then they would generally be successful. (17) Smith provides a more detailed description of his philosophy's three components later in the book in Parts Two, Three, and Four, but this early exposure provides a terrific introduction to Smith's philosophy. In fact, when coupled with the business perspectives in Part One, the authors' point is virtually complete, leaving little but a more detailed discussion to follow in the remaining chapters. The detailed discussions of the philosophies' three components later in the book actually produce one of the book's weaknesses--repetitiveness of concepts and anecdotes. (18)

In these early chapters, Smith comes as close as he ever does throughout the entire book to fully buying into Bell's thesis on coaching and business leadership by stating that

   [the co-author] believes that readers can take things from our
[basketball coaching] philosophy and benefit from them, and I agree
that could be the case. Whether you're leading a basketball team, a
nurses' school, a small insurance office, or a large corporation,
there are certain common denominators. Honesty, integrity,
discipline administered fairly, not playing favorites, recruiting
the right people, effective practice and training, and caring are
foundations that any organization would be wise to have in
place.... (19)

Also in these initial chapters Smith identifies one of the weaknesses in trying to apply his coaching philosophy to other business-related industries admitting that, "[m]aybe it was easier for me to lead my players, who wanted to be there, than it is for a business manager to lead members of her sales department who feel they have to be there." (20) The business reality that requires leaders to deal with experienced employees who generally have greater freedom to switch employers than a typical college scholarship athlete has to transfer universities is rarely recognized throughout the book and is one of its fundamental weaknesses.

This part of the book also contains the first of many perspectives written by a former player which sets the theme for all the other perspectives throughout the book. (21) The initial perspective strongly supports the authors' goal for the introduction, which is to establish Smith as a caring, brilliant leader who was interested more in molding each player's individual character than he was in building individual players. (22) Despite the enormous on-court successes of his teams, players, and assistant coaches, it is clear throughout the book that Smith is most proud of the fact that the vast majority of his players developed into outstanding citizens. (23) In fact, ninety-six percent of his players earned their undergraduate degrees, and more than thirty-three percent continued on to earn graduate or professional degrees. (24) There is little doubt that this success is largely based on the lessons he taught his players while at North Carolina. (25) The life lessons discussed in the personal perspectives, the passion with which they are written, and the near reverent awe the writers seem to have for Smith are common threads in the player perspectives sprinkled throughout the book. (26)

3 comments:

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YourSimplerLife said...

Do you control your stuff or does your stuff control you? Organizational change