Coach Mike Krzyzewski, head coach of the Duke Blue Devils Men’s Basketball team, is a coaching icon in the sports world. Approaching his 4th decade of coaching at Duke, ”Coach K,” as he has come to be known as, has enjoyed unparalleled success throughout his career. With 5 National Championships, Olympic gold medals, and a litany of other accomplishments, Krzyzewski realizes that there’s more to what he does than teaching X’s and O’s on the court. He’s teaching life lessons about how to build a winning team.

Leadership Takes a Team

Coach Krzyzewski got to coach the USA Men’s Basketball team that won gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The fact that they won the gold should come as no surprise when you realize they had players like Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James on the roster. But, Coach K didn’t consider himself the “leader” of the squad. Instead, he depended on the aforementioned superstars to be leaders within the locker room. Having leaders inside the team means more than having one singular leader at the top of the organization.

Egos Aren’t All Bad

Coach K gets to coach some of the most widely recruited basketball players in the nation. When you have players as highly touted as the young men who come to play at Duke, they have long been the best players at their respective high schools, if not in their entire states. That fact can easily go to a player’s head and give them a bit of an ego. However, Coach K doesn’t see egos as a detriment. Instead, he meets with each player individually and collaborates with them on a way to use their own greatness to further the vision of the team.

Everyone is on Your Team

Over his nearly 40 years of coaching at Duke (not to mention his time at Army before that), Mike Krzyzewski has coached some of the greatest players in the history of college and professional basketball. When recruiting these players, Coach K understood that he was going to be their coach for a maximum of 5 years, if that; even less when you consider that many of his players go professional before they graduate college. However, Krzyzewski remains an inspirational part of their lives long after he’s done being their coach. He strives to serve as a mentor and friend as their lives go on.

Coach K spends a great deal of time speaking to business owners and other leaders about how to translate the lessons he has learned as a coach into other walks of life. If they worked for him, they can work for you too.