What We Can Learn About Leadership From March Madness

Leadership In Unlikely Places

Published: Monday, March 16, 2015   /   Categories: Leadership

First, a few quick warm-up questions…Are you ever frustrated with our political or business leaders?   Ever sense a lack of vision, a failure to assess risk, a reluctance to make hard decisions?   Ever feel just a hint of a need for more selfless behavior? If you plead guilty to any of the above, I only half-jokingly suggest you find leadership inspiration in an unlikely place: watch more basketball.   No, it’s not the coaches I’m thinking of – whose tendencies toward tempestuous behavior are well documented.  It’s the point guards who embody the very qualities that are too often lacking among our leaders. 

Good point guards have vision. They understand the environment.  In basketball of course it’s called “court sense.” They’re game managers, controlling the tempo in a fast-paced, fluid environment. They regularly make snap decisions on whether to fast break or slow the pace down. They have an uncanny ability to see things in a way their teammates don’t, surveying the entire court and making the right pass to find the open man, or woman.  They see the big picture and take appropriate actions as a result. 

Good point guards understand risk.  While it’s the occasional behind-the-back or through-the-legs pass that brings the crowd to its feet, the fact is, good point guards make responsible, low-risk decisions the vast majority of the time.  Arguably the greatest point guard of them all, Magic Johnson, who earned his nickname for his no-look, highlight-reel passes, was fundamentally a brilliant game manager who used his size and incomparable hand-eye coordination to protect the ball, make sound decisions, and control the pace of play.   

Good point guards aren't afraid to make tough decisions. In fact, they have to make them constantly, in a chaotic environment.  They regularly decide when to push the pace in the open court, or when to settle things down and run a set play.  They know when to pass and when to take it to the hoop.  They know who their shooters are, who their role players are, and who can be counted on to help handle the frenzy of a full court press.  They know who’s hot, who’s not, and who stays cool when the game is on the line. 

Good point guards are selfless.  They’re never greedy.  They distribute the ball.   Though they can score when needed, their training – their first impulse – is to look for others.  They’re not concerned about personal statistics or glory.  They involve their teammates.  

The very best make everyone on the court with them considerably better. It’s been said the essence of athletic excellence is making the very difficult look routine.  From Walt Frazier to Magic to Sue Bird to Derrick Rose, to the steady anonymous point guard for your local high school… good point guards are money in the bank.  They’re team players who exercise prudent judgment in challenging situations and run their operations in a responsible, controlled manner. I ask myself, now where have we needed these qualities in recent years?

So the next time someone tells you you’re wasting time watching too much of The Madness over the next month, just tell them you’re actually not watching basketball – you’re studying sound management practices.  And pass the pretzels, please.


By: Victor Lipman (Contributor to Forbes.com)


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1 comments on article "What We Can Learn About Leadership From March Madness"

Steven James

4/22/2015 5:32 AM

Nice article!!! For performance coaching you can refer the following link


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