Preface: I have mentioned in recent posts how lucky I am to have a consulting practice with such a wide range of clients and projects. Ranging from tech and food startups, to massive global biotech companies (and quite an array in-between,) it’s an amazing experience to be 30+ years into a business career and having the chance to learn so much! Over the past few months I have begun work with a dynamic and exciting “Association” in the women’s sport space, lead by two exceptional leaders Danielle and Shannon. The work is significant and the organization very inspiring. A pivotal event in their annual work occurred last week at the NCAA Women’s Div. 1 Final Four in Columbus Ohio. I had the chance to participate in that event, which is a backdrop for the following essay.
After finishing my key deliverables last week at the meetings on Thursday and Friday, I had the chance to attend the two semi-final games of this year’s NCAA Women’s Div.1 basketball championship last Friday in Columbus. Joined by my son Bryson and wife Jennie, e headed to the arena early to get a “lay of the land” and truly “soak up” the entire event. Expecting two good basketball games, played by four exciting teams, we had no idea what was in-store!
The first game featured Mississippi State University playing against the University of Louisville; the second game featured U Conn vs. Notre Dame. What a pair of matchups! I won't cover any specific “play by play” highlights but each game was unbelievably exciting, each game had “buzzer beater” shots, each went to overtime and each taught me a lesson in “Strategic Inspiration.”
As a casual fan, its impossible to imagine the locker room speeches/sermons/dynamics/hysterics that must go on at half-time (none the less leading into OT) at big games like these. While I don't know exactly what was said or done by the two wining head coaches (Coach Schaefer from Miss. St., and Coach McGraw from Notre Dame) in that “pre- OT” locker room moment, each of their teams came out to win, and win they did!! What struck me was not only the exceptional level of their play, but their belief in their ability to win! These two teams were “strategically inspired” to win their semifinal games in order to advance.
This dynamic of “belief” linked to a specific “objective”; in my language this “strategic inspiration” drove the success of those two teams last Friday night and is often so pivotal across companies/departments and teams in business. Organizations need to have the right strategies/tactics/tools/talent and resources to accomplish their objectives, yet those items are “required but not sufficient” to ultimately achieve success. They need to be coupled with a belief/drive and focus on the objective at hand…. whether it be winning/closing a new customer contract or succeeding on OT in two basketball games in front of a national TV audience!!
We will never forget those two games and that night in Columbus, by far the most exciting sporting event that we (my family and I) have ever witnessed. But once the cheering and excitement subsided, the lesson of that night has stayed with me. We as business leaders need to remember those two coaches and their ability to “strategically inspire” their teams to come out of the locker rooms and achieve success/victory at the end of that fateful over time period!