March Madness Lessons—Four Ways to Win in Leadership

April 3, 2015

basketballThe 2015 Final Four marks the 22nd time since 1940 that the men’s basketball championship has been hosted here in Indianapolis, and the 35th time that our great state of Indiana has hosted the tournament. A recent Fortune article, 3 leadership lessons from March Madness, highlights leadership skills to hone on and off the court:

Competition is a good thing
Never underestimate the underdog.
Trust your team.

As is true with most aspects in life, there will be winners and losers. Here are four ways to win in leadership.

Dare- The article’s author underscores the importance of competition because, “It can raise the level and intensity of your team and will be what inevitably gels them together.” Dale Carnegie’s 21st Win People to Your Way of Thinking principle is, ‘Throw down a challenge,’ since it forces people to rise to the occasion. Intense feelings of camaraderie and competition inevitably strengthen teams. Effective leaders foster competition and dare employees to rise to the challenge because it pushes employees to attain what appear to be insurmountable goals.

Uncover underdogs – Every year, millions of fans watch March Madness games in anticipation of the revealing of the underdog. Dale Carnegie’s 19th Win People to Your Way of Thinking principle is, ‘Appeal to nobler motives,’ which every leader must strive to do. It’s easy to allow past performance and stereotypes to influence a leader’s opinion of an employee. Similarly, some teams are perceived as losers before the tip-off. Giving every employee—every player, a chance to step up and shine, demonstrates leaders’ trust and confidence in their team members. Many executives of large organizations started at the very bottom and earned their way to the top through hard work and perseverance. Strong leaders understand that everyone has potential; the question is, how much?

Nurture teamwork – On or off the court, the time arrives when leaders must step back and let the team or employee do what they do. For example, when the game is on the line, one person takes the ultimate shot. However multiple strategic plays must be mapped out beforehand. Teamwork is required at each handoff to achieve the ultimate goal.

Keep it real – In Forbes article, Be Original And Flourish As A Leader in 2015, Glen Llopis stated, “Wise leaders are the ones whose presence, authenticity and the manner in which they communicate and engage with others are genuine and unique. They quickly earn respect…” When watching any basketball game, deciphering what the coach is saying to players is pretty simple sans audio. They are usually praising, guiding or scorning players. Even when coaches scream at players, they listen intensely because they respect them and value their opinions. Leaders who ‘keep it real’ rise to the top because their authenticity fosters intense levels of trust and respect.

Are you ready to take your leadership skills to the next level? Consider enrolling in the Dale Carnegie Leadership Training for Managers course which tips-off in Carmel, IN on Friday, April 17, 2015.

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