Buzzer Beater: The Leadership Lesson and Takeaway from Close Games

Key Takeaway:

  • As a leader, embrace and conquer your leadership role as if you’re in an oh-so-close game, and time is expiring. Ensure that you prepare, leverage, act and navigate in difficult and pressure-packed moments.

Through the years, sports have provided us with some incredible finishes in what have been very close games. From being successful in making a last-second field goal, to thrilling finishes on the hardwood, where players knock down shots just as time expires. Moments like those make for some of the most thrilling and compelling games.

While emerging victorious is always the goal, there is something to be said about the invisible leadership lesson I refer to as the construct of time.

I have often heard the phrase “There are two sides to every coin,” and while I consider that to be true, I would like to reinforce the notion that there could be two sides to the construct of time that we as individuals create:

  1. How we actually spend our time
  2. How we wish we spent our time

Have you ever said to yourself, “I would love to do (insert activity or task here), if only I had the time.”? While it is true that we only have 24 hours in the day, I believe that close games reveal to us that time could be viewed as a construct we create, and there is often a disparity between how we actually spend our time verses how we wish we spent our time.

As a leader, it is often desired to avoid pressure-packed moments at all costs. However, imagine being the leader that is known for delivering and rising to the occasion for their team or organization in clutch moments. One could argue it is much like being the kicker on a football team, who connects on a game-winning field goal, and or a basketball player, who sinks the game winning bucket as time expires.

In either instance or situation, there are a few keys to success that leaders can follow and incorporate into their own personal leadership and time management in order to be ready for the big moment. Those keys could be easily remembered by the using acronym P.L.A.N. The following components were developed based upon my observation of athletes, coaches and leaders during pressure-packed moments.

the words "prepare," "leverage," "act" and "navigate"

Prepare: As a leader, the time you spend preparing and honing your leadership skills will pay big dividends when encountering pressure-packed moments. In leadership, preparation allows no moment to become too big, and it affords leaders the opportunity to build the skills necessary to succeed. As a leader, ask yourself: What development opportunities am I taking advantage of today that will benefit me and those I lead tomorrow?

Leverage: The oh-so-close games provide a deep reminder of the harsh reality that remains: At the end of the day, there are winners and there are those that fall to the crumbling nature of defeat. In most instances, I believe that the winners were simply better at leveraging their skills gained through preparation in the moment. As such, it is important for a leader to be able to leverage their leadership skills during pressure-packed moments in order to attain success. In the same way that an athlete would rely on and utilize their skill set to will themselves and/or their team to victory.

Act: Here comes the hard part to the equation: Pressured-packed moments require action on behalf of the leader, and the fact is, there is simply no time to dillydally. As a leader, you must know and recognize that time does not stop. A failure to act as a leader is just like being a player who simply holds onto the ball too long, causing time to expire and costing their team a chance at winning. The actions you take as a leader will be vital for finding success in all situations.

Navigate: Finally, leaders who are successful tend to have a roadmap that leads them to a favorable outcome. Without direction, it will be very difficult for leaders to navigate pressured-packed moments. Simply put, you must know where you’re going or what you’re aiming for. In every coaches’ playbook, I can assure you, there is a go-to play for a variety of game-time situations. As a leader, it will be important to ask yourself: Where I am going? What am I aiming for? Clarity in direction and strategy could exponentially increase the odds of attaining success.

The Leadership Lesson: A leader should always expect a favorable outcome, no matter the situation or circumstance. Furthermore, leaders should exhibit incredible will power and stay engaged in all phases of the process, utilizing P.L.A.N. to make that favorable outcome a reality.

The Takeaway: As a leader, embrace and conquer your leadership role as if you’re in an oh-so-close game, and time is expiring. Benjamin Franklin once stated “Lost time is never found again,” and therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you prepare, leverage, act and navigate as a leader.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.