Tom Izzo is an outstanding manager who has led Michigan State University back to The NCAA Final Four for the 7th time. He has set an unprecedented record of leading his team to The Final Four for the third time when it has been a number five seed or higher. This year Michigan State is a number seven seed in the tournament. He has led Michigan State to 18 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. He has a winning percentage of .712 since 1995 at Michigan State. He has accomplished this feat and developed this record because he is an outstanding manager and an excellent executive with superb business management skills. Mr. Izzo excels in a number of key areas featured in my book about management titled “Theory You”.


Outstanding managers have both formal and informal lines of communication with their organization. Most managers are aware of the necessity and importance of formal communication systems. The outstanding managers have an informal communications system that they value as highly as the formal system. On the telecast of the game Sunday on CBS-TV the announcers made an important observation about Mr. Izzo. They noted that he listens to his players when they have comments and suggestions. The players know this and know they have a voice. This informal communication system was recognized as a contributer to the success of the Michigan State team in addition to the traditional formal communication system.


All executives have access to a great deal of information. However, it is what you do with information that makes it valuable. Outstanding managers know how to maximize available data. Mr. Izzo has positioned a coach sitting in the middle of the bench with players on both sides of him relaying the information he observes during the game. This assistant coach is instructing the players in real time when it will have the most value. Whether the players are preparing to enter the game that day or play for the team the next year they are benefiting from a mentor. The MSU coach is wisely using the available information thus making it valuable.


Every executive is faced with this challenge: do more with less. Mr. Izzo does not get high school All Americans at Michigan State yet year after year his teams defeat teams with these high school phenoms. Mr. Izzo has become an outstanding manager of his available resources and maximizes their potential. Thus he does more with his resources, doing more with less, than any of his competitors over the past twenty years.


Daniel Webster said: “Confidence is a thing not to be produced by compulsion. Men cannot be forced into trust”. Confidence is an effective tool when the organization has confidence in the leader. In my book “Theory You” I point out that confidence is a triangle: confidence in self; confidence well communicated to the organization; and confidence by the organization in the manager. Mr. Izzo as the leader clearly has the confidence of his team and he also completes each side of the triangle. Confidence creates unity and clarity and both contribute to a high performing organization or team.


Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “I look upon that man as happy, who, when there is a question of success, looks into his work for a reply.” We can all look at the body of work done by Mr. Izzo and judge him a successful man; judge him a good executive; judge him a prized mentor; judge him a skilled manager. Business management skills applied well to an organization by an outstanding manager is a formula for success in any business.