Coach K's 'PowerForward' lessons for the boardroom

Coach K's $18 million basketball empire
Coach K's $18 million basketball empire

Mike Krzyzewski is known for producing leaders on the court, but now he's turning his attention to the business world.

The legendary Duke men's basketball coach launched a new program called PowerForward, which aims to foster emerging leaders in the work force by teaching them key skills.

The online program will use 15-minute segments to present a conflict and how it was resolved by a featured business leader.

The lessons center around key words that Coach K has used throughout his 36 years as a coach, including terms like adaptability, failure, ownership, next play, and passion.

CNNMoney sat down with the coach to discuss the program and the lessons he's learned.

Why did you want to create PowerForward?

"I like to teach and I really love leadership and teamwork. I went to West Point -- that's probably the closest you can get to a school for leadership," said Krzyzewski, who spent five years in the military.

He wants to help people find a "voice to express themselves."

Krzyzewski played a key role in developing the program and the lessons. He wants people to know he's not just putting his name on a product. "I believe in this."

Coach K has worked with Duke University's Fuqua School of Business for 20 years and helped develop the school's Center on Leadership and Ethics.

Who should be watching PowerForward?

Krzyzewski hopes the program, which is focused on Millennials, will inspire viewers with compelling stories of how successful business leaders have overcome adversity.

But he said PowerForward holds relevance for everyone.

"I'm 69. I'm a lifelong learner," Krzyzewski said. "I've learned more in the last 10 years coaching the U.S. team in my sixties than I ever knew totally before that."

What do you look for in an emerging leader?

"I wouldn't try to characterize by whatever a person looks like -- it's who a person is," he said. "I don't look at are you black, white, heavy, thin, man, woman, but who are you? I would want to know something about that person. I would ask questions about what they believe in."

Krzyzewski said he's worked with all kinds of people throughout his storied career, but one of the most effective ways he's found to lead is to try to understand people and their stories.

What's your biggest lesson for emerging leaders?

"A leader has to be in the world of the people he or she is leading, not in his or her own world," Krzyzewski said.

Coach K, who talks to PowerForward subscribers about adaptability, said people need to learn not to dwell on how things used to be in the workplace. Instead they should "adapt to the culture that they're now responsible for."

What's the most important lesson you've learned?

"Allow [people] to use their abilities" Krzyzewski said. "Give them some level of structure but don't put them in a box."

Krzyzewski said he tries to listen to people and give them the freedom to weigh in on decisions that affect the team. He said that same lesson can be applied to members of any team -- in any industry.

The biggest thing Krzyzewski strives for? To not be closed off to new ideas and change.

"I hope I'm still an emerging leader."

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