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Talking Points

Ask Bobby Knight

October 08, 2000|LISA GIRION

What can corporate honchos learn from hoops? For one thing, trust in leaders appears to be critical to success.

When it comes to winning college basketball, trust in the coach counts almost as much as player talent. That's the finding of a study to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

To test the popular notion that leadership trust is key to an organization's performance, Kurt T. Dirks, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, questioned 355 players from 12 teams at the end of their regular season a couple of years ago to gauge their level of trust in coaches.

He analyzed the trust results in relationship to the teams' records, prior seasons' performance, coaches' tenure, team talent and other factors. In the end, only two factors had a significant effect on conference records--talent, followed closely by trust in the coach.

The two teams that showed the greatest trust in their coaches turned out to be national standouts. In contrast, the team with the lowest level of trust in their coach lost about 90% of their conference games, and the coach was fired at the end of the season.

Dirks, who declined to name teams because he promised the coaches anonymity, said he studied basketball because "I'm a big basketball fan," and he could control for many variables.

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