What can business leaders learn from great sports teams?

Recently, an article, “Why Butler Basketball Holds The Key To Organizational Success,” on Forbes.com talked about Butler University’s amazing basketball program success. In just a few years and without vast resources and budgets, Butler has risen to national attention.  A Final Four darling, this Indiana institution came within an eyelash of defeating perennial powerhouse Duke for a national championship in 2010.

Reminiscent of another small Indiana basketball program, featured in the iconic film, “Hoosiers,” Butler relies on the essence of teamwork to succeed: the Butler Way.  It strikes us that what works on the court will work in business as well.

Among the principles cited are: humility, passion and a commitment to excellence, unity, servanthood (making teammates better) and thankfulness (learning from every circumstance). Furthermore, it is demanded of all Butler coaches and players that they live these core values, place the well-being of teammates before individual desires, embrace the process of growth and demonstrate toughness in every circumstance.

A focus on, and dogged adherence to, these success elements can bring a business endeavor to the same pinnacle – a peak some may view as unlikely, but which may not be unlikely at all.  And that’s a business advantage.

As Norman Dale, the coach in “Hoosiers” preached:  “Five fingers: one hand. Team, team, team.”  Butler is showing us the way.

(Author’s note: Small bias here, my son is a freshman business major at Butler – enjoying college life and learning a lot about business and sportsmanship too!).


Joseph S. Grano, Jr., has a record of success providing vision and strategic direction to organizations experiencing rapid growth and change. He is one of those rare individuals who have made a successful transition from corporate leader to entrepreneur and owner of his own growing company.