How 3 Top NCAA Basketball Coaches Define Leadership

By: Carol Abel, Vice President of Education, Food Marketing Institute Winning Coaches Talk Leadership at FMI Connect

Whether building a team to deliver the best grocery shopping experience or a team that can win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, there are lessons to learn that can help us all be better leaders and teammates. At FMI Connect, CBS Sportscaster Greg Gumbel moderated a panel of winning coaches including John Calipari from the University of Kentucky, Tom Izzo from Michigan State and Rick Pitino from University of Louisville.

While the basketball court is not the grocery aisle, there are some similarities. In both arenas teammates may be between the ages of 17 – 22 years old, new technology and social media are becoming more of a factor and problems arise that need strong leadership solutions. Here are some of words of wisdom from these winning coaches:

“Having a strong support system backing you is key to success.”—Rick Pitino

“My teachers taught me that if you care about those you work with you'll always have a job and succeed.”—John Calipari

“You have to be willing to adjust your leadership style, but maintain your core principals.”—Tom Izzo

“Key to motivation is being your own messenger.” –Rick Pitino

“Spend time with your employees and identify the good self-evaluators.” –Tom Izzo

“When things go wrong or employees mess up, deal with the issue head-on and help them learn from mistakes.”—John Calipari p

“Put yourself in your employee’s shoes sometime and think about how different the world is today.” – Tom Izzo

“Social media makes everything more transparent. You own your brand.” —John Calipari

Want to see more of what happened at FMI Connect? Visit or our FMI Connect TV action on YouTube.

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