Skills and Styles Approaches to Leadership

Write a 500-750-word paper that analyzes the two leadership case studies found in the topic materials for this module, “Coach Knight: A Will to Win” and “Coach K: A Matter of the Heart.”

Address the following questions and concepts:

1.Based on the models of Robert Katz and Michael D. Mumford and colleagues (see Week 1 and Week 2 assigned readings and lectures), which skills do you think accounted for the success of Coach K and Coach Knight? Which skills appear to be deficient?

2.Compare and contrast Coach K’s and Coach Knight’s leadership styles using Blake and Mouton’s leadership grid. How are they similar? How are they different? Are they both effective? Why or why not?

Skills and Styles Approaches to Leadership: A Tale of Two Coaches

          Robert Katz and Michael Mumford supplemented each other in their explanations on skills in leadership. Katz’s model dates to the 1950s while that of Mumford dates to the early 21st century (Virkus, 2009, Pg. 2). Both philosophers explore leadership from the skills point of view. Basically, Katz’s model suggests that leadership comprise three different components of skills. The three are technical, human as well as technical skills. On the other hand, Mumford’s model offers five components. The five are personal traits, competences, outcomes, experiences as well as environmental determinants. In essence, the model relates capabilities to ultimate performance. According to Mumford and his colleagues, one can develop capabilities through learning either by education or job experience. The two models offer an appropriate basis for the evaluation of leadership. They are appropriate for the evaluation of the highly-achieving coaches Robert Knight and Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K).

Coach K’s Leadership

          Krzyzewski scored high on human interactions and therefore satisfies the human skill component explained in Katz’s model. He did not directly purpose to win, and instead targeted the building of strong links with his players. Through the method, the Duke University basketball coach attained victories as a by-product of good relations. As a top manager, Krzyzewski was also rich on contextual skills. His method mainly involved long-term strategies toward winning. On Mumford’s model, coach K had strengths on competences as he showed excellent behavioral flexibility. Career experience also helped Coach K prosper as a top manager. He could for instance intervene and solve conflicts among his players to maintain a solid team.

          Technical skills as explained in Katz’s model were however deficient in Coach K’s leadership. He could not focus on the technical matters of basketball coaching, but rather assumed an emotional approach. He treated players as though they were his family members, and therefore failed in technical skills.

Coach Knight’s Leadership

          On Katz’s model, Coach Knight mainly employed conceptual skills to win. He could formulate ideas and orient his team toward their achievements. In most situations, he dealt with specific games and could overcome challenges in most of them. He also used technical skills, as most of his moves were entirely focused to the art of playing basketball. On Mumford’s model, his intelligence fitted the requirements in personal attributes. He also depicted competences in Mumford’s model employing successful means in overcoming most challenges.

          Coach Knight lacked human skills in Katz’s model as he related poorly with his team. He also lacked some attributes suggested in Mumford’s model, such as motivation, as he related poorly with his team.

Comparison between the Two Coaches

The Blake Mouton grid categorizes leaders as task-oriented, people-oriented or people-as-well-as task-oriented. Whichever style as Manktelow (2015) wrote is neither wrong nor right, as outcomes can be realized from any. Coach K falls in the Team Leadership category as he attained high results, and at the same time made players happy. Coach Knight on the other hand falls in the Authority-Compliance Management, as he achieved good results while hurting his players. The two coaches are similar in that they obtained high results, but dissimilar in that while Knight hurt his players, Krzyzewski did not.

Both Coaches were effective in their leadership as they often got to their ultimate target. Each made great wins and was highly regarded in his career. Coach K was however more successful than coach Knight as he also won people in addition to games. Ability to win people is also a measure of success in leadership (Thornton, 2014).


Manktelow, J. (2015). The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid.

Thornton, L. F. (2014). What is the Ultimate Goal of Leadership?

Virkus, S. (2009). Leadership Models.

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