Defense Wins Championships…and Talent

Defense Wins Championships…and Talent

I’m a college basketball fan, so the NCAA Championship this week was fun to watch.

OK. Maybe not the first 5 minutes when no one could hit the broad side of a barn–but the overall tournament and the championship game did not disappoint.

Take Virginia and Texas Tech–two defensive-minded teams who made it to the championship game for the first time. Two teams slammed for their slow play, lack of marquee talent, and getting “hot” in the tournament. Yet two teams who have widely respected coaches who will likely be NBA coaches one day due to their strategic game plans and defensive focus.

“Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships”Paul “Bear” Bryant

When it comes to talent, offense is needed–it’s what sells tickets and gets people excited. Money, perks, a private chef…all can attract talent. But what about engagement, productivity, and retention?

That’s where a defensive approach comes into play. “Defense,” in an organizational context, is simply great leadership.

It’s leaders who engage and inspire their teams.

It’s managers who employees want to work for and do their best for.

It’s leaders who focus on development and getting the most out of their talent’s strengths.

Coaches Tony Bennett and Chris Beard are not only great at recruiting talent but have proven even better at inspiring, retaining, and getting the best out of each individual, thereby building a cohesive team.

Take the University of Virginia–who just a year ago was the first #1 seeded team to lose to a #16 seeded team. Coach Bennett was able to motivate those players to stay, develop, and come back the next year to take the championship home. The very first national title in the school’s history.

The effectiveness and capabilities of our coaches–our leaders–becomes increasingly critical to our overall talent strategy.

Think of the money spent on offensive levers that don’t move the dial on talent vs. money that should be spent on developing tomorrow’s leaders and equipping them with the capabilities to manage the future workforce. These are capabilities such as motivating different cultures and generations, inspiring trust, and embracing digitization along with customization for each employee.

The right talent strategy will vary based on your organization’s needs, and it should include both offense and defense, with a stronger emphasis on defense (my view to no surprise).

Ensuring leadership capability will enable your company to win the talent championship. Or at the very least, it will ensure you have a ticket to the big dance next year to try and win again!

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