Celebrate Success: Lessons from the Buckeyes

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Just as coaches put a premium on recruiting and developing the best talent, business leaders know success comes from a quality, high-performing team.

The Columbus Chamber has about 2,000 members, and its staff meets one-on-one with about 500 to 700 individual business owners/managers each year. The No. 1 "need" businesses express is frustration over trying (and often failing) to find and retain qualified workers.

Part of the Columbus Chamber's role is connecting businesses to workforce solutions. That is why its Annual Meeting, which will be held Feb. 5, will focus on talent acquisition, development and retention. The theme of the meeting is "Lead Like a Champion."

Here in the Columbus Region, when winning teams are discussed, the 12-0 Ohio State Buckeyes football team often comes to mind. So it is incredibly fitting that Urban Meyer, head coach of the Buckeyes, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the chamber's Annual Meeting.

Searching for Greatness

Meyer has made a career out of not only securing top athletes, but also molding them into a unified, cohesive group. Many have seen an ESPN video from Meyer's first day of practice with the Buckeyes this summer. After a lackluster performance on the field, he tells his players, "It's so easy to be average. … We don't want to coach average." He inspires them to reach within themselves to find something special. "If there's a touch of greatness, how cool would that be?"

That search for greatness came to fruition in November, with an undefeated season and a pair of gold pants for a win over that school up north.

What business executive wouldn't want to inspire his or her team to reach heights like this? These leadership skills will resonate for Columbus Region executives trying to build their own winning teams, no matter the size or industry of their business.

Human Capital

Chamber staff members believe that the key to building and maintaining a winning team is demonstrating an appreciation of human capital. For Meyer's Buckeyes, that started with understanding the importance of building a strong coaching and support staff and recruiting talented players.

In the business world, strong leadership and management is just as important, as is building a strong workforce through effective recruiting and attraction programs. In successful companies, those decisions pay off with recognition and rewards for the staff and a strong bottom line for the organization.

Of course, no successful team can rest on its laurels. Meyer and his staff are recruiting and studying other teams and coaches to find ways to make the Buckeyes even better in 2013. Businesses and their employees also must stay abreast of trends and evolving skill sets in order to ensure continued success. And maintaining a good team demands resources from training, equipment and facilities-plus rigorous work habits that lead to year-over-year wins-on the field or in the boardroom.

Getting to the Next Level

About a year ago, the Columbus Chamber announced a new direction and approach. Its mission is to provide connections, resources and solutions to help business thrive-to get to the next level.

In terms of workforce support, it does that in several ways:

  • Sometimes, it is through one-on-one consultation to discuss options and resources. For example, the chamber connected a member with some candidates for open positions.As a result, the business has been able to hire two new employees. Another chamber member was struggling with staff workload capacity. The chamber recommended subcommittees to work on endeavors. People are energized for the mission now, and outside perspective helps bring new ideas into focus.
  • For the logistics industry, the chamber works with its Columbus Region Logistics Council and the Columbus State Community College Center for Workforce Development to conduct a semi-annual job fair. Each draws about 40 employers and hundreds of job seekers. The council also supported the LogisticsART (Attract and Retain Talent) program at Columbus State.
  • The Columbus Chamber also serves as the region's primary business advocate in government, influencing policies and programs to make Columbus attractive. For instance, chamber representatives have delivered testimony at the Statehouse and before Columbus City Council on workforce development issues.
  • The research team monitors and advises businesses on workforce trends.
  • Connecting young talent to businesses and vice versa is also important. To do that, the chamber provides and has created a series of video tutorials for employers to learn how to launch an internship program.
  • Finally, the chamber teams with partners, such as Columbus 2020 and the Columbus Partnership, to provide other tools and resources to help recruit top talent.

How can the Columbus Chamber serve you? I invite you to call on us.

Michael Dalby is president and CEO of the Columbus Chamber. He can be reached at (614) 225-6917 or

Reprinted from the February 2013 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.