nike_logo.jpgPHIL KNIGHT

Philip H. Knight
Chairman of the Board of Directors

Mr. Knight, 70, a director since 1968, is Chairman of the Board of Directors of NIKE. Mr. Knight is a co-founder of the Company and, except for the period from June 1983 through September 1984, served as its President from 1968 to 1990, and from June 2000 to 2004. Prior to 1968, Mr. Knight was a certified public accountant with Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand and was an Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Portland State University.



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Be Like Phil: Nike's Knight Gives Stanford $105M Gift
Phil Knight Biography

"You can't explain much in 60 seconds, but when you show Michael Jordan, you don't have to. It's that simple." -Phil Knight
"Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are really part of a very big advertising program, and the fact that they make so much money is because the markets have dictated that they get that money, and the fact that they endorse our products allows us to sell more products and create more jobs." -Phil Knight



Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Ltd., a Chicago consulting firm. "By and large he's made athletes richer, he's made athletic footwear and athletic clothing a luxury item, and he has turned a small company in Oregon . . . into an international goliath."

CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP: ability to create a vision and to persuade others to become a part of it; employees become passionately committed to possibly insane projects, without regard to the practicality of their implementation or competitive forces in the marketplace
He operated on the premise that in high school there are only Five Cool Guys who set the social and sartorial standards everyone else follows. Knight reasoned that if he could get his shoes on the most dominant and charismatic runners, the sporting equivalent of Five Cool Guys, then the pack might very well come along.
But Knight eventually regained his momentum by returning to his core strategy--building new products around a popular athlete.
"He does things that don't seem possible, yet you see the humanness," says Steve Roth, a divisional president at Research International in New York

Throughout Nike’s history, Knight has always had an important leadership role. Throughout the beginning of Nike’s startup, Phil Knight held an informal leadership role. The company was his idea and he was responsible for running the day-to-day activities of the company. As Nike grew, Phil took on the formal leadership role of president and held that position from 1968 through 2004, excluding the years from 1990 through 2000.
SERVANT LEADERSHIP: In 1990, the Nike team came up with a magnificent idea that allowed them to recycle old and worn-out athletic shoes while initiating their “signature community effort.” The “Reuse-a-shoe and Nike Grind” program collects athletic shoes from different recycling centers and Nike sponsored events. Then, along with the scrap material left over from manufacturing, the materials are processed to create what they call Nike-Grind. This material is then incorporated into tennis and basketball courts, running tracks, fitness flooring, and soccer fields. The revenue from this program is used to fund the many community programs sponsored by Nike.

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“Knight is not a people person in anyone’s book. And yet he manages to do three things better than just about anyone in the business: hire good people, shuffle them around, and inspire them.”
-Daniel Roth from KicksGuide
Phil Knight is a prime example of a transformational leader. A transformational leader is one that inspires and excites their followers to high levels of performance. Although Knight is well known as a transformational leader, he doesn't lead and inspire his employees in a traditional way (not autocratic nor democratic.) He actually practices a "laissez-faire" style, in which he leads through non-leadership in many aspects. He doesn't like to have his hands on everything; on the contrary, he keeps to himself. Knight created a culture at Nike where he merely set loose strategies and objectives, but allowed his executives to maintain a high level of freedom in decision making, in which he plays almost no role. This results in a very fluid and dynamic company structure that is open to change and growth, which is Knight places a large emphasis on.

"Knight has always been one of the oddest of the Fortune 500 CEOs, a man who seems to embody exactly the opposite of what his creation extols"

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