Tips and Tricks

May 19, 2017 By John Boitnott

What Every Business Owner Can Learn from the NBA Playoffs

May 19, 2017

By John Boitnott

Read More from John Boitnott

May 19, 2017

What Every Business Owner Can Learn from the NBA Playoffs

By John Boitnott

As the NBA continues to race toward the Finals in June, all eyes are on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. At this point, they’re the teams to beat, with many believing they’re headed for their third Finals showdown in a row – but of course since is based in Boston, we bet they’re rooting for a Celtics upset!

As many business owners know, some of the best leadership lessons come from participating in sports, where athletes learn perseverance, teamwork, and many other essential skills needed to run a successful business. In the spirit of good spectatorship, here are a few of the most important lessons business owners can learn from this year’s playoffs.

The Underdog Can Win

Although the Cavaliers and Warriors are expected to be the last two standing, the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs aren’t out of the running yet. If one of those teams gives their rival a run for their money, the crowd will be on the edge of their seats the whole time. Similarly, small businesses can engage customers by playing up the fact that they’re small and/or local. As the old saying goes, everyone loves an underdog. If you win business away from a larger organization, customers will probably find the story behind that win inspiring. Don’t be afraid to tell it, through customer marketing initiatives highlighting the areas where you “stole the trophy” from the expected winner.

A Good Team Can Go Without Its Leader

The Golden State Warriors have been without its valued coach, Steve Kerr, for a full month, yet the team has continued to do well. A leader’s role goes beyond calling all the shots from one day to the next. True leaders bring in good people, who can step in and run the show if they’re not around. They build a supportive, empowering environment, and trust their team members to make decisions in their absence, whether they’re in a meeting, working remotely, or out on vacation.

Everyone Needs a Plan B

Hard-working Kawhi Leonard is considered by many to be the most valuable player in the NBA. But his recurring ankle injury though has plagued the team in the playoffs, much to the heartache of San Antonio fans. In sports, injuries are common, which means coaches must be prepared to make last-minute decisions at all times. Like coaches, business leaders must be prepared for the unexpected. Whether it’s a poorly timed bout of the flu or a family emergency, things come up in people’s lives that impact their work. The key is, keep a “Plan B” in mind just in case a key team member goes down. Enforce regular communication and status updates among the team so someone can step in and take the reigns on a project or lead a presentation in the absence of one of their peers. If Head Coach Gregg Popovich has to do it, it should be good enough for you too.

Long Term Hard Work Pays Off

LeBron James is arguably the greatest player of his generation, and his focus is squarely on going down in history as one of the best to ever play the game of basketball. The Cavs’ player serves as an inspiration to people of all ages, having worked hard from a very young age to get where he is today. Leaders and employees alike can learn a lot from James’s determination. His sustained vision and discipline is key to achieve the goals of any organization. Leaders should challenge their employees to think beyond the day-to-day, month-to-month, even the year-to-year. Think about the big picture, and reinforce those mission statements regularly across the entire company. If you keep everyone’s eyes on that prize, you’ll find a more inspired, passionate workforce.

As you enjoy the NBA Playoffs, pay close attention to the dynamics of the players. Notice the way teams work together toward a common goal. Listen to their post game interviews as they talk about how they constantly shift assignments and make adjustments so they can match opposing teams’ strategies. In doing so, you’ll likely find inspiration for your own business that will help you as you build your own team and grow.