Leadership Lessons from March Madness

Even though I am a former Division I basketball player (University of Oregon, Go Ducks!), my bracket, probably like yours, is busted. But that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy the Final Four. It's fun to watch the young men and women play their hearts out as stories and stars are created right before our eyes.

Since much of my work is centered around helping leaders and teams be more engaged at work, I figure the best way to justify the amount of time I have spent checking game scores and watching highlights is to post about the key leadership and teamwork lessons I have gleaned as these mini dramas unfold.

My top lessons from the NCAA tournament (I follow both men and women):

  1. Share the ball and the glory; a pass makes two players happy. Who have you assisted today?
  2. Coaches don’t play. Great leaders develop strategy and direction, and let their teams execute without micromanaging.
  3. Less talented teams can win over very talented teams. Talent is only an edge if you work hard. 
  4. If you are not willing to do the “dirty” work, you are sure to lose. Sometimes you have to bring your lunch pail and your overalls!
  5. Enjoy the moment. Besides, only one team wins them all. Are the rest losers?
  6. Your current ranking will not win the game. Don’t sit back on your laurels. (See what happened with Blockbuster & Kodak.)
  7. It’s just a game – except when your team is playing. (Go Ducks!)
  8. Don’t judge your day by the weather or whether or not your team advances. Your day should not be dictated by things you cannot control – it’s another way of giving away your power.
  9. Make the simple shots and you won't have to make the complex ones in desperation – keep it simple.

Bonus Lesson: Just because you played Division I college basketball does not mean your bracket is going to be better than your wife’s – ouch!