As we watch the NCAA championship, leaders can learn a lot by watching the players and their coaches.They knew from the beginning of the tournament if they lose, they are out -- the only way to continue in this tournament is to win. Think about how you as a leader and your company's team compare?

These athletes pour their heart and soul into their job. They constantly take risks to achieve new levels of success. Daily, rigorous practice and constant communication and feedback allow them to improve their skills for the betterment of both their personal careers and for the team as a whole. Sounds like the traits of a great employee to me.

What you don't see in any of these competing teams is players "hanging around" or trying to do the bare minimum. You never see a player trying "not to lose." Instead, they're playing to win, and win big. Does your team strive to be the best, or do they work just enough to get by?

As an advisor to leadership teams, this is a common problem I see in many of today's businesses. Employees may meet their goals, but just barely. They only do the minimum requirement instead of going above and beyond for the company and for themselves. Instead of trying to be creative and proactive, they settle for following orders.

We all can learn a lot from watching these players compete. Here are the top four elements of an athlete's mindset that a leader should encourage in their office:







1. A player is nothing without his or her team

While many of us feel we would be better off doing all our work by ourselves, teamwork and collaboration are essential to a company's success. Every person brings a unique skill set and approach to the overall business. Leaders have an obligation and responsibility to emphasize the importance and value of teamwork and collaboration.

2. You have to study the opponent

Now obviously, I'm not talking about a literal opponent, although you may want to seriously analyze the strength, weakness and implied strategy of your company's competitors. Without that, you run the risk of playing defense, and like in basketball, that does not allow you to score points.This focus on teamwork will allow your people to help shape new products, new approaches and invigorate your company's performance.

All of the disrupters, like Airbnb, Uber, and Snapchat all found gaps in the product offerings of entrenched competitors. By studying them, they were able to create completely new business models.

3. Keep the long-term goal in mind

Whether your employees are stuck in their day-to-day work or focusing on a special project, it's important to keep the goal of all the work in mind. For the players competing in March Madness, it's the championship, that shiny trophy and cutting down the net. For your employees, it may be new sales, lower costs or the successful implementation of a new system. Having a clear long-term goal in mind will help your team have a focused drive and determination that is essential for team and individual success.

4. Review and learn from your mistakes

High-level athletes don't win by ignoring all their mistakes. Neither will your employees. Take the time to review with them what went wrong and why -- see what you might have done differently and use that knowledge next time.

At my friend Rachel's company, she and her leadership team meet once a month for two hours to specifically review projects. In a totally open manner, they analyze which areas need improvement by the team, and where appropriate, an individual basis - and give feedback that can be implemented immediately.

There is a lot that a leader and his or her team can learn from watching March Madness. Every member of your business should play to win, never to "not lose." With a champion's mindset, you will see a new level of energy and performance in your company.