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A Tale of Two Coaches Essay

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Updated: May 15th, 2019

Path goal theory

Northouse (2009) adduces that Path-goal theory is concerned with the effects of superiors on the performance of the subordinates. It seeks to understand the relationship between the superiors and the subordinates. There are two general propositions which are seen to be essential in the path-goal theory.

The first proposition is based on the fact that the behavior of the leader should be acceptable to the followers and contribute to the success of the organization. The other proposition has it that the behavior of the leader should be motivational. This behavior should be supportive of coaching, guidance and support which are necessary components for effective performance.

In the first case study the coach, Bob Knight is seen to be a strict disciplinarian to the point that the gets into various controversies. He is seen to be arrogant and unwilling to listen to the views of the rest of the players. He is seems to favor unorthodox means of getting to his goals.

This has a way of creating an environment where the team members do not enjoy even when they do win their matches. Additionally, the coach seemed to be so obsessed with winning such that he seemed to embody the perception that the end justifies the means.

He had no qualms whatsoever to defend this perception even to the media. This can have a negative effect on the morale of the players who may feel that the coach is not mindful of their welfare. Nonetheless, he is a very successful coach.

On the other hand coach K was disciplinarian while at the same time displaying a willingness to understand his players. However, it is interesting to note that he was a former student of coach Bob Knight. In as much as coach K was a strict disciplinarian he did not derive his authority by having a lot of elaborate rules.

In fact he emphasized to his players that all they had to do was to ensure that they did not get in behaviors which could be injurious to them which could end up hurting the entire team. This ensured that the player had a clear picture of what was expected of them.

At the same time the coach ensured that at all times he communicated his honest opinions to the players. This additionally helped in boosting their motivation. He achieved a lot of success by ensuring that he engaged in behavior which seemed to motivate his players and this way he achieved enviable success.

Leader-member exchange theory

According to Miner 2007, Leader- member exchange theory is based on how leaders are able to maintain their position of dominance through a various tacit agreements with their followers. To facilitate this, the leaders can have an inner group as well as outer group.

The inner group comprises of close associates of the leaders to whom the leaders delegates more responsibilities, have an easier access to the resources and have the ability to influence the decisions in an organization. However, this group has to perform exemplary well in order to compensate for the various privileges which have been accorded to them.

In contrast, the members of the outer group are given less privileges as compared with those in the inner group. The LMX process is believed to commence as soon as a new member joins an organization. It is at this stage that the leader gives the member responsibilities which are supposed to unearth his abilities.

In the first case study the coach, Bob Knight, seems to treat all the team members equally. However, he seemed to value those players who toed the line and gave them the opportunity to shine. If a player failed to perform as per the expectations he was relegated to the bench. This is consistent with the leader-member exchange theory.

On the other hand coach K encouraged all the team members to keep away from behavior which were likely to be injurious to them. In effect the message which he seemed to be passing across is that he was willing to give equal opportunities to all the players so long as they followed the laid down rules.

At the same time he seemed to favor dialogue in solving conflicts before resorting to drastic actions. However, he was willing to do anything to discourage unreasonable behavior.


Coach Bob Knight seemed to favor a strict authoritarian sole of leadership. Similarly, coach K embodied an authoritarian style of leadership. However, coach K displayed empathy and honesty in his dealings with the players. On the other hand, Coach Bob seemed to be overconfident and sometimes unethical in pursuits of his goals.

In my opinion coach K was a more successful coach since he was able to motivate his players to succeed. At the same time coach K seemed to care about the welfare of his players. This had a further motivating effect on the players. This was in sharp contrast with Coach Bob who seemed to push the players for his own sake (Zastrow 2008).

Reference List

Miner, J. (2007). Organizational Behavior: From theory to practice. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Northouse, P. (2009). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications Inc.

Zastrow, C. (2008). Social Work with Groups: A Comprehensive Workbook. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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