Running Your Business the (John) Wooden Way

As the annual “March Madness” men’s collegiate basketball tournament beckons, it is worth taking a moment to consider how the teachings of one late UCLA basketball coach can be applied to successfully providing managed services to small and mid-sized businesses. John Wooden, who won 10 national championships and launched the careers of NBA legends Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, is widely regarded as a leadership expert whose winning methods resonate far beyond the basketball court.

There is not enough room to review all 12 of his “Lessons in Leadership,” but I have selected three that are particularly applicable to the world of managed SMB services.

Emotion is Your Enemy

Wooden instructed his players to avoid getting caught up in the momentary emotions of games and instead focus on doing their best and achieving victory. MSPs should adopt the same attitude when providing services to SMBs. We all know that SMB clients can be needy, demanding and unrealistic, and it is easy to get caught up in emotion and say or do something that costs a client.

While on rare occasions an SMB client is genuinely so toxic it is better to cut ties, the vast majority of problems can be solved through patience, logic, and two-way communication. And even if you are better off without a particular client, the decision to end a services relationship should be made after careful and calm consideration, not in the heat of an emotional moment.

Little Things Make Big Things Happen

Wooden took this lesson to an extreme, spending an entire practice session teaching rookies the proper way to put on their socks and shoes. This helped avoid bunions and ensured players had proper foot support, providing a better chance at victory.

MSPs should be just as hypervigilant when providing services to SMBs. No detail is too small to examine in detail, especially when delivering services to a small client who has a small margin of error due to its limited resources. Take care of all the little things, and the big things – services delivered correctly and without interruption, will happen.

Seek Significant Change

True success does not just mean performing a task, but performing a task so well it cannot be done any better and it leads to the best possible result. For Wooden, this meant not just winning more games than he lost, but winning 10 championships between 1963 and 1975. For MSPs serving SMBs, this means providing transformative technologies and services, like cloud and mobile, that allow SMBs to significantly improve efficiencies and reduce costs, thus becoming more competitive in a world increasingly dominated by large organizations.

If you get a chance to watch some of the March Madness games this year, remember that almost every coach of every team in the tournament got there by employing at least some of Wooden’s teachings. If you would like to achieve your own championship results, consider doing it the Wooden way.

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