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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Basketball and Lessons of Leadership

Basketball is an intricate, high-speed game filled with split-second, spontaneous decisions.

But that spontaneity is possible only when everyone first engages in hours of highly repetitive and structured practice and agrees to play a carefully defined role on the court.

Great basketball coaches, military commanders and business leaders know that practice of the rules of engagement coupled with split-second decisions in execution by their team can make the difference between winning and losing.

Great leaders know that if you can create the right framework (by everyone knowing the rules and practicing them), when it comes time to perform, your players will engage in fluid, effortless, spur-of-the-moment dialogue and action. The leader provides the overall guidance and intent to the team, coaches them in mastering tools and general techniques through practice and then allows them to use their own initiative and be innovative as they move forward.

BOTTOMLINE: Placing a lot of trust in your team members has an overwhelming advantage:
Allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves within the rules of engagement, focuses their energy and opens the possibility for extraordinary leaps of insight and instinct in decision-making. When the team is "in the flow," split-second decisions are unconscious flashes of insight that drive extraordinary performance on the basketball court, battlefield, professional service office or shop floor.

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