Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

John Calipari: A Leadership Role Model?

David J. Phillip/AP

So, I got an e-mail yesterday from my brother, Steve. He’s a University of Kentucky grad and was the student manager for the basketball team during the Joe B. Hall era. These days, he’s the newly promoted CEO of a hospital in North Carolina.

Being a rabid Wildcat fan, he was miffed that on the morning after UK won the national men’s championship, my blog post was not about Coach John Calipari and his team. First, I pleaded a lack of time to write the post on such short notice and later I wrote back that there are a lot of folks out there who, in the era of one-and-done college hoops players, may not hold Coach Cal up as a leadership role model.

Steve begged to differ and offered what I think is a strong case for the coach. So, with his permission and in his own words, here’s why my brother thinks Coach Cal is a leader worth emulating:

Cal took a bunch of young stars from high school who always had the spotlight on them, and taught them to ‘check their individual star at the door,’ for the sake of the team. They were selfless, shared the ball and the spotlight, learned how to communicate with each other and help each other during the game, and they stayed in the moment. Everyone was a 20 points plus average scorer in high school and the “it” guy. In college, they all sacrificed their points (I think the highest average was 14 plus, and SIX of them averaged double figures) in order to make the team the most efficient it could be.

Quite a bit of mind melding considering five of the six key players are 18 or 19 years old.

I’ve seen several interviews with Calipari about his coaching philosophy. CoachCal.com has quite a few in their video archives. While his x and o system might be a little complicated, his philosophy isn’t:

Focus on us, not the opponent … just keep getting better
Play for each other … no selfishness
Have fun

As for the haters and the one and done thing…

It’s the NBA’s rule, not Cal’s. He hates the rule, but he’s adjusted to the environment in which he lives. His choice is to 1) recruit the best players, teach them about team, achieve great things, and help them achieve personal dreams, or 2) he can recruit lesser players and be mediocre.

I know I sound like a groupie, but the guy is a brilliant team builder and motivator.

So, that’s Steve’s analysis. As you can tell, he’s just a little bit passionate on the topic. I’m certainly not going to argue with him (at least in public).

What do you think? Is Coach Cal a leadership role model?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.