What the Villanova Wildcats Have to Teach Entrepreneurs About Unselfish Leadership

A pass-by-pass look at Villanova's game-winning buzzer beating shot adn how entrepreneurs can apply those lessons.

learn more about Bob Wright

By Bob Wright


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Wow, did you catch that buzzer-beating three-pointer? This year's NCAA Championship Game will certainly go down in the history books. The North Carolina Tar Heels caught up with ten rapid fire points with under five seconds left to tie up the game, but it was the Villanova Wildcats who took home the hard-won championship title. If you didn't catch it, it's worth a watch.

Let's analyze that amazing game-winning last desperate play, or was it so desperate after all? Why? Because this win was no accident. It was a lesson in teamwork we can emulate as entrepreneurs.

The play -- premeditated pandemonium.

Just 4.7 seconds left on the clock. Game tied 74-74. Instead of improvising off some half-baked last-minute scheme, Villanova went with a play the whole team was very familiar with the appropriately named "Nova."

"We knew what play we were going to. We work on it every single day," said Villanova's star guard Ryan Arcidiacono (#15). Nova offered Arcidiacono three options: he could drive down the lane and shoot, he could play off the pick set close to half-court, or he could drop the ball back to forward Kris Jenkins (#2) for the three-point shot.

Related: 12 Tips for Fostering Teamwork

Jenkins threw the ball in bounds and Arcidiacono drove hard and fast down the court. At the last second, he heard Jenkins call his name and passed him the ball, scoring the game-winning three-pointer right at the buzzer, bringing the winning score to 77-74. Jenkins is great at hitting three-pointers so he may have seemed like the safe option to shoot the final shot at the time, but that's not the whole picture.

Related: Why Teamwork Should Be Your No. 1 Sales Tool

The lesson -- unselfish teamwork takes all.

Jenkins said it all during the post-game press conference, "For [Arcidiacono] to be so unselfish and give up the ball, it just shows what type of teammate he is, what type of person he is." Arcidiacono could have gone for the shot himself. His ego could have driven him to be the hero, driving right down the lane.

While Arcidiacono made the move to save the day and Jenkins gets credit for the last-second shot, Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright and the supporting coaching staff are at the heart of this win, fostering the Villanova team leadership that is certainly responsible for cultivating the environment necessary to achieve success.

"We put a lot of work in, this team. Everybody has the confidence to catch and shoot," says Jenkins. That confidence comes from Villanova's team-first mentality. Each and every player on the team is filling in the cracks, doing their best, and by doing so, bringing out the best in the whole team. They put purpose and meaning ahead of ego and showboating. Villanova unified behind their teamwork-above-all mission to bring that championship home.

Related: How to Foster Effective Teamwork

Entrepreneurs can learn something from this momentous win. They need to take a close look and be sure they're empowering everyone in the company to own the business so an unheralded player like Jenkins could just as likely nail the final shot as the CEO would. Having unselfish team leaders allows the other players on your team player to secure a win at the last second. Consider the possibility that your entrepreneurial venture is only as strong as the weakest player on your team. Spend time helping the whole team get better, not just your star player. To get the best out of every team member, you must have a clear mission and a unified purpose around which your team can align. That way, everyone is working together to see the team win.

After all, no winning shot is made alone.

Bob Wright

CEO of Wright, a Fortune 100 consulting organization

Dr. Bob Wright, Ed.D., M.S.W., M.A., is the CEO of Wright, a Fortune 100 consulting organization bringing together the best of neuroscience research, social and emotional intelligence, and developmental psychology to help corporate leaders and entrepreneurs across the country build and grow their businesses. Wright is the author of several leadership books including the winner of the 2013 Nautilus Silver Award,“Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living. He holds a master’s degrees in communications and clinical social work, and a doctoral degree in education with a focus on human performance and leadership.

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