Leadership Lessons from a Final Four Coach

Leadership styles were on display during the NCAA Final Four last month. Getting to a Final Four as a coach and player is the ultimate goal. There are leadership lessons that every coach at this level has in common.

How did their teams manage to get to a final four? While everyone has different styles, every final four coach has a similar big picture approach. What is the big picture for your team and organization? What is your vision? Have you taken the time to really nail down your strategy and message to your stakeholders?

Big Picture

Coaches and teams start their training and seasons in the fall. As a business leader, it’s your fiscal year. Your vision and the big picture should be clear and communicated from Day 1 to everyone on the team and organization.


What is your end goal?

What resources do you need?

How are you going to get there?

Do you have the right people around you?


It’s important to communicate the vision regularly with your team. Remind them this is why they are training, putting in long hours and doing whatever it takes. This is all part of getting buy-in, keeping everyone focused and motivated on the end result.


It’s a Process

How do the best teams reach the Final Four? Great coaches and leaders understand it’s a process and a journey.  There are going to be potholes, failures, successes, challenges, and good and bad days. Understanding this is all part of the process is vital.  Being clear on where you’re going, having a game plan and sticking to it – is essential.


Keep Your Eye on the Ball

The most successful leaders and businesses are laser-focused Communication and focus are critical for a winning strategy. Take one day at a time towards the end result. Looking at an entire season or year can be very overwhelming, and having that focus or approach can swallow you and your team up quickly.

What does the week going into the Final Four look like for teams? There are pep bands, celebrations, functions and many distractions. The head coach and key players are handling national media. It’s imperative to keep your team locked in and focused. Keeping things consistent is important and continuing to focus on the fundamentals. Discipline is key, communicate the same message and keep your team sharp.

There are many distractions during the process. This is especially true for teams experiencing this type of success for the first time. It’s easy to get distracted by the noise and outside pressures and expectations. Keep it simple and stay on course.


Preparation and Routines

Be prepared. Stay focused on the next game or project. Keep things consistent and structured for your teams. The best way to build confidence for yourself and your team is to be prepared and stick to your routines. As a coach, I was always prepared for whatever we would face and we stuck to our routines.  In business, this it critical when preparing for a big meeting, presentation, and getting buy in from stakeholders and clients. Are you prepared and what are your routines?


Next Steps

When coaches get to the Final Four, they know it’s time to shorten their bench. Tighten things up and they begin relying on the best players, top performers and significant role players. Lean on those people and you know who they are on your team. Managing your personnel and staff is critical to stay in the game and survive and advance.

Not every coach, team or business will have the opportunity to perform on this stage. If you’re fortunate to play in your own Final Four, follow these leadership lessons from someone who has been there before. This is an exciting experience for teams in any industry and I look forward to hearing about your success and the road to your Final Four.



This business leadership book is a Game Plan for Life, Leadership, and Performing With Grace Under Fire. Each one will be autographed with a personal note and I will send it directly to you.