• Leadership and Ethics

    Posted: May 15th, 2011

    For years I have watched Coach K lead the Duke Men’s Basketball Team to victory in game after game. My 84 year old father and I often watch the Blue Devils’ games together, he in Indiana and me in California, with telephones in our hands. When Coach K led the US Olympic Basketball Team to a gold medal in 2008 we all became aware that Coach K is athletically ambidextrious. :) So in 2010 when I received an invitation to attend the Coach K Fuqua Conference on Leadership and Ethics my attention was captured.

    I attend many conferences annually but I have to admit that one of the greatest conferences I have ever attended was the Coach K/Fuqua Conference on Leadership and Ethics and I intend to make the pilgrimage to Duke each year. Not only is the Conference enjoyable and interesting, with great speakers and fascinating participants, but this Conference takes a different approach to dealing with matters of the world. To hear Coach K discuss motivational and moral issues is a high point of the week (as is the Men’s baskeball practice), but to hear first hand what makes this man tick and how he thinks is an inspirational moment for everyone in attendance.

    As the world seems to drift into hopelessness and economic chaos it is great to see a leader such as Coach K who never seems daunted by adversity but instead sees adversity as a challenge and an opportunity to rise above difficulty. Not only is this the Coach K we see in the games but this is the Coach K in real life.


Adversity can teach you more about yourself than any success, and overcoming an obstacle can sometimes feel even better than achieving an easy victory. Through adversity, you can discover things about your endurance, your ability to turn a negative into a positive, and your personal strength of heart.

- Coach K

Belief can mean the difference between a fear of failure and the courage to try. On a team or in a family, belief makes each individual stronger and also fortifies the group as a whole. The basis of belief is in individual relationships.

- Coach K

No matter how successful you believe yourself to be, you can never feel as if you’ve reached the absolute pinnacle. There are always new and wonderful challenges out there, and part of maintaining success is knowing when you need to accept them.

- Coach K

Take care not to allow one aspect of your life to so consume you that you neglect the others. Balance can put things in perspective, can bring you joy even when you are down, and can allow you to be at your best in all aspects of your life.

- Coach K

When you care about someone or something, you show genuine concern for that person or thing, in good times or bad. When you care about one another and about your purpose, you are compelled to put your feelings into action. Care creates an atmosphere that breeds success and gives you the confidence to try again.

- Coach K

You can possess countless good qualities as an individual, but if you don”t have the courage to proceed, you may never see those qualities come into fruition. It takes courage to put what you believe to be best of you on the line, to test it, and to see how far it takes you. Courage means daring to do what you imagine.

- Coach K
Collective Responsibility

We win and we lose together. Handling the responsibility for wins and losses together removes the burden from one individual’s shoulders and distributes it among each member of the team. That atmosphere is conducive to high-level performance and places you and your team in the position to be bold and unafraid, and if you should lose, you are not alone.

- Coach K

Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication. Communication does not always occur naturally, and must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one. The most crucial element of communicating is telling the truth.

- Coach K

You have to adapt what you do based on who you are. In teaching, you must remember that no group or individual is the same as who you taught the day before, the year before, or the decade before. Your plan has to suit who you and your team are right now.

- Coach K

When you are winning, your commitment is never challenged. But loyalty and dedication during difficult times can be tough. When commitment doesn’t waver, that’s when you have the greatest chance of winning. You can never give up.

- Coach K
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