As March Madness begins to unfold, as the teams are whittled down and the field is honed, we find that it is the teams with strong point guards – playmakers – that cut down nets and teams without that are watching the sweet 16 from their dormitories. Though most often the shortest and least physically imposing player on the court, great point guards have the largest heart and the strongest spirit. In the realm of full-contact capitalism, success is determined by your executive. Companies that are to compete and succeed are led by executives that embody the qualities that we see in the best point guards. The sets of skills move seamlessly from the court to the boardroom or executive suite.
A good point guard is a defensive hawk, dominates the floor game, knows when to push and when to pull back, wins every 50/50 ball, is acutely aware of the unit’s strengths, and saves their go to moves for the most critical moments of a game. A good point guard is privy to the angles, is tough, composed, resilient, sometimes forceful but also selfless, and empathetic. A good point guard and a good executive have their own version of the game – of reality – through strength and force of will.
Both a great CEO and a great point guard exhibit the ability to make the proper value assessments; work the logic tree intuitively. They are playmakers and chess masters. A great CEO, like a great point guard, makes everyone around them better. This is achieved through support, proper positioning, and a leadership style that predicates that you would rather be respected than liked. On the court, elite point guards have a total awareness of the movements and inclinations of all nine other players on the court. Split second decisions are made hundreds of times per game and they always make the right ones. A good CEO also knows both his own personnel and the other players on their court of play. These decisions involve assessing and reassessing the potential outcomes perpetually. They can read the vicissitudes of the field of play and personalities of players or companies and strategize to act for the greatest advantage. It is the good judgment of a point guard and a successful executive that facilitates the success of others by putting them in positions to use their strengths while compensating for the shortcomings.
This logical appositive apology does not truly express the quintessential meaning of being a good point guard or a good executive.
They both work in a way that inspires belief and faith in the goals of the unit and incite aggressive action towards those ends.
Isn’t that what we look for in CEOs? Business Leaders? Entrepreneurs? People who know how to manage supremely understand and lead small groups and large organizations. We need and expect leaders who lead by example. Lead from the front. Go the extra mile. Who does the little things to succeed while others rest? A person willing to forgo popularity for honest and direct leadership.
Both a good CEO and point guard put winning ahead of everything else. That is their focus and obsession. That’s why we all are drawn to root for a good point guard. Their clarity of purpose helps focus all and is infectious in a way that gets others to follow. As the emotional leader in their own realms, their hard work makes others work harder and perform better.
At the end of the day, each accepts responsibility for the losses knowing full well it was their job to create the conditions for winning. Winning is joyfully shared and celebrated by the entire team. Losing, however, belongs to the point guard. It hurts morally and almost mortally to lose an important game or whiff on a big opportunity, which is why winners at the point guard and executive position work day and night to be prepared to avoid losing through preparation and determination.
Do you have a great idea waiting to be commercialized? Are you at an impasse on an important project? Is time running out to raise the capital necessary to launch a time sensitive venture? Is your quality company over-leveraged? Is bankruptcy looming? If the pressure is on and building, if it is crunch time, please allow me to make a suggestion: hire a good point guard if you’re trying to get it done right. For those who have the tools to be a good point guard are uniquely qualified to achieve high-level goals, generate opportunities, and lead consequential projects to the promised land of frayed nets. A good point guard requires the same vision, anticipation, resourcefulness and perseverance as any CEO or entrepreneur. Just as any basketball team looks to the point guard for direction so do our markets, the body of workers, and the country look to executives that know the angles and shape reality and outcomes through the force of will.