March Madness: What Women Leaders Can Learn from It

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By AmyK Hutchens

From the sidelines, basketball games can look frenzied: offensive players trying to find an open teammate, defenders hoping to steal a ball, and coaches frantically calling out new plays in the midst of it all.  But to anyone who has been on the court or has followed the game extensively knows basketball is a fast-paced environment well orchestrated by leaders. The best teams – the ones that make it to the courts that host the NCAA Division I basketball championship tournaments known as “March Madness” – are constantly setting up and running multiple complicated plays and adjusting tactics to make it to the next round.  

Just as in the game of basketball, great business leadership strategy doesn’t start and end with the coach.  A successful team in any environment requires all players to contribute their best in concert with their teammates, and do it seamlessly.   It is the leader’s responsibility to provide the tools to make that happen.

5 Leadership Techniques from the Court:

1. Establish Your Culture: The success of the team cannot depend solely on all the players having a common goal or every school would make it to the final four.  Players on great teams have core values in common, both on the court and off.  What are your team’s values? What do you want the team to embody and emulate? Everyone should know the philosophy and the behaviors and demonstrate their belief in them.  
2. Create a Playbook: The basketball can be passed faster and more effectively than it can be dribbled, and no championship has been won on the backs of only one player – passing is the key to any good offensive strategy. Your team needs to know how and when to play off the strengths of each other successfully. They rely on you to create clearly defined roles that are flexible in times of need so there’s never a gap in progress if one person goes down.  As a leader, you must illustrate the optimum plays so they know what contributions are expected of them.  If you create a playbook for them to follow in any given situation when it comes time to play hard, they play well, with focus and purpose.
3. 4. 5. AmyK Hutchens, Founder and Intelligence Activist, AmyK International, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist.  Follow her on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit


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