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Lessons from The Madness

Guest Blogger: Michael Lentz, Esquire

It’s that time of year again. The NCAA’s annual tournament to determine college basketball’s national champion, colloquially known as “March Madness®,” started last week. In one of Thursday’s games, tiny Morehead State upset traditional powerhouse Louisville, in a true David-vs.-Goliath outcome. Trailing by 2 with roughly twenty seconds left, Morehead State had the ball and called its final timeout.

Morehead State’s coach told his team to deliver the ball to Demonte Harper and just wait. The plan was that Harper would hold the ball for one final three-point attempt, as time expired. The game would be decided then and there. At the time, Harper had made only two of his nine shots, none of his five three-point shots, and by all accounts was having a terrible game. Of course, Harper made his shot, and Morehead had its Hollywood ending.

In interviews after the game and the next day, Morehead’s coach said that he planned to use Harper in an all-or-nothing spot because he was generally an excellent shooter, and he was several inches taller than the players likely to be guarding him. As a result, he would likely have an easier time taking a shot. The coach knew his players’ respective strengths, put them in position to succeed, and trusted them to do their jobs.

That’s great advice for any small business owner. Figure out what every member of your team does best, and put him or her in a position to do that, as often as possible. If you’ve got a genuinely wonderful “people person” who would be an excellent ambassador for your company, get him in a position to interact with the people that matter to your company. Similarly, a shy, quiet wallflower type is probably best not being your receptionist or leading a sales team. Let your speakers speak and your writers write.

Of course, once you’ve identified each person’s strength, keep asking them to use it, even if they’re in a bit of a slump. This is true even when the outcome really matters – in fact, it’s especially true when the outcome really matters. That’s (probably) why you hired them in the first place.

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