Beat the Odds: How To Lead A Final Four Quality Business Team
A Note From The Editor
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How’s your NCAA bracket doing? If you’ve made it this far, you’re way ahead of the game. The odds of picking a perfect college basketball bracket are at least 1 in 128 billion. You’re much more likely to be struck by lightning (a 1 in 10,000 chance in a lifetime).
The teams who make it to the playoffs are the best of the best. Starting with 68 teams, we’ve now surpassed the Sweet 16, we were wowed by the Elite Eight over the weekend, and now it’s down to the Final Four on April 2.
Being the best is no mistake and it's never luck. Yes, we’ve seen "Bracket Busters" and "Cinderella teams" (I’m looking at you, Syracuse, #10 seed), but these hopefuls rarely make it to the Final Four or even the Elite Eight.
The teams who make it this far do a great deal of work to get there, and we can learn a lot from what they have in common. It’s not only about having the best coaches and the top players, these teams also have a shared vision, an in-it-to-win-it drive, and most importantly, each person on that team lives and plays with purpose. Purpose gives each practice and each game a great deal more meaning; they know where they’re going and why at all times.
Running a successful enterprise isn’t in the “odds,” it’s in your ability to build a highly motivated team with vision, drive, and purpose. Here’s what you need:
A strong team
From business to basketball, a team is only as strong as its weakest member. It’s not just about ability, either. Almost anyone can be trained to succeed once you find their natural aptitude. The real answer is in hiring team members with the right attitude.
If you have someone on your team who pushes your buttons, be sure they’re pushing you to strive for more and reach higher, rather than just acting as the squeaky wheel, infecting the rest of the team with their negativity.
Understand every employee isn’t right for every company, team or project. If you’re running lean, as a small business owner you don’t have the time or funds to waste on someone who’s the wrong fit. Even the most talented player is useless if they aren’t able to work with your other players.
A unified vision
To be on top of your game as an entrepreneur, you need to have a clear vision and you need to be able to articulate it in a way that inspires, challenges and engages your team to work, not for you, but with you toward those goals. A good team doesn’t just know the company vision; a good team shares in the visioning and each team member embraces it as their own.
Your vision is about more than just “company goals” or “being the best.” Every Final Four basketball team has the vision of winning the championship. It’s about how they want to play and work together as a team that pushes them beyond day-to-day practice. Find ways to elevate and inspire your employees to work better with each other towards a shared company goal.
Ask yourself this right now: “Do I want this bad enough?” We all want to be the best at what we do, but some of us don’t care about running a Fortune 500 company. For us, success may mean community service, a mission to educate, or healthy families. If you aren’t working with intentionality and you don’t have an appetite for what you’re doing, your company can become less of a blessing and more of a curse. Desire is what makes us engage and strive. Incorporate what inspires you into your company to help keep you engaged, focused and innovative.
Understanding purpose and your role in your business is vital to the success of your organization. Your purpose should be born of your abilities, capacities, experiences and values. It’s based on your affinities and the qualities and characterizations you most admire and want to exude.
It’s your driver -- your purpose is your reason for being.
Not to switch sports metaphors, but when I think of purpose, I always think of University of Alabama Head Football Coach (and alum), Bear Bryant. Bryant spent his entire life playing and coaching football, taking his alma mater to two championships in his final five years. He understood his purpose—and it was literally his life.
When Bryant faced retirement, a reporter asked what he planned to do next. He replied, “I’ll probably croak in a week.” Sure enough, just four weeks after he retired he suffered a massive heart attack. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously, and he is still celebrated as one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.
Now that is living with purpose. Understanding your purpose and using it to propel you forward will ensure your success. It will lead you to championships and give you the satisfaction of a life well lived. Who could ask for more?