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Vail Daily column: Leadership lessons and March Madness

We are in the midst of March Madness, both the NCAA basketball tournament and our peak spring break visitor season. Many lodges, retailers and restaurateurs would agree spring break is as crazy as a last second buzzer beater by a No. 14 seeded team pulling off an improbably upset in the tournament.

How does an underdog — in business or in basketball — pull off an upset? What’s the key to an improbable victory? It starts with leadership.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden knows a bit about the importance of leadership. His teams won 10 national championships in a 12-year period — including seven in a row. During this time, his teams won a record 88 consecutive games and he was named national coach of the year six times.



Coach Wooden was famous not just for his victories on the hardwood, but for his inspirational leadership and ability to develop successful leaders. A small sampling of leadership lessons from Coach Wooden can be easily applied to our business environment here in the Vail Valley:

• Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.



• The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.

• Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.

• It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.



• Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

As we strive to provide the very best service and maintain our positive momentum another three-plus weeks through the end of the ski season, it’s important to take these leadership lessons to heart, regardless of your job title.

Managers, supervisors and business owners can only do so much to lead. It is incumbent upon everyone in an organization to lead and help a business reach its goals. True leadership isn’t about threats and rewards (the old paradigm of carrots and sticks), but rather becoming the best that you can be so that people want to follow you.

It is along that exact line of thinking that Vail Valley Partnership invites you to attend our upcoming seminar with Bob Vanourek, author of “Triple Crown Leadership,” on Thursday, March 27, from 8-10 a.m. at Antlers at Vail. Mr. Vanourek will host a seminar on how to “Unleash your latent leader: How anyone and everyone can lead.”

“I’m not the CEO. What can I do to lead?” Much like Coach Wooden, Bob recognizes the importance of team and the importance of building excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations in order to achieve continued and sustained success.

Great leadership is a group performance and every individual within an organization has a leading role to play. Learn the immediate, practical steps you can take to lead, even without formal authority, including telling truth to power, gaining allies, becoming a talent magnet, speaking up as a voice of one, and more.

Bob has been named one of the “Top 100 thought leaders in trustworthy business behavior” by Trust Across America. He was an officer at two Fortune 500 firms, including Pitney Bowes, one of Jim Collins’ “good to great” companies. Bob’s businesses have won numerous awards, including a state-level Malcolm Baldrige Quality Prize and the Shingo Prize for Manufacturing Excellence, and Bob has served on numerous boards.

We are excited to bring this educational seminar to our members and the community and hope you’ll join us Thursday, March 27. As you watch this weekend’s NCAA basketball games and the inevitable upsets, remember that those underdogs probably have leadership skills that helped them to victory.

Chris Romer is president & CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.


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