Team Building and Leadership Training Lab – Master in Gestione d’Impresa/Business Management

12 April 2023

On the 3rd of April, a team of students from Bologna Business School’s Master’s in Business Management met with coach Alessandro Finelli.

Former coach of several A1 and A2 basketball teams (e.g. Virtus and Fortitudo Bologna) and multi-certified corporate trainer and team builder, for a workshop on Leadership and Team Leadership, included in a series of activities on soft skills development.

The challenging objective of the day: is to preview some internal dynamics of the competitive world of business through the basketball court. How does a team player become a leader, promoting the success of individuals and the organization? What characteristics should one place on the table and, therefore, train for one’s future business career?

The first phase of the meeting took place on the upper floor of the building, a space designed for creative meetings and briefings. Coach Finelli introduced himself and went straight to the heart of the topic: the student is focused on his own performance and receives a service from the school; entering the world of work involves a change of mindset. Joining a company means becoming a team player, the first step to integrating into a workgroup and acquiring leadership.

What are the key characteristics of an excellent team player? First, be coachable, meaning open and willing to learn and eager to improve.

Basketball can be an excellent metaphor for translating these theoretical insights into practice.

The basketball half-court downstairs has been built with the help of Bruno Corsini of Climarai Srl with a high level of innovation and sustainability, in which professionals, as well as amateurs, can train individually with Davide Lamma or play in total comfort and safety. In this space, coach Finelli took students on a learning path different from the classic frontal lessons, involving the team in simple exercises of dribbling and controlling. Next, he went on to explain a basic basketball pattern: the screen. In the debriefing, the practical exercises were translated into concepts applicable to work life: dribbling means acquiring the necessary skills; the scheme is a metaphor for the business procedure. Concepts such as the importance of trying and reliability in executing a procedure moved easily from the court to the company: if the team player carefully performs self-improvement work (dribbling) and becomes a procedural (the scheme) master, he or she shows strength and reliability, finds space in the team and enables the group to achieve the goal.

Back on the court. This time, to work on chest pass and one-on-one to the basket: one at a time, the students, facing the basket obstructed by the coach, had to quickly choose the best way to get to the shot.

Then, a second meeting to analyze the meaning of the work done on the court. The pass is an analogy for communication: to “call” the ball is to show openness to receive information; to pass accurately and at the right time is to conclude concisely and timely an information movement. The one-on-one at the basket introduces the theme of choice: shooting from a distance, stepping over the coach, penetrating to the right if he moves to the left, and so on.

Communicating efficiently and making choices, and knowing how to handle unexpected scenario change is how the training on the court is translated into business dynamics.

Four exercises learned from basketball illustrate four fundamental hallmarks of the successful team player: the desire to improve and work on oneself (dribbling-individual fundamentals), becoming an expert in procedures (schemes-blocking), communicating accurately and on time (chest pass), and knowing how to take responsibility for choice by handling difficulties on the move (one-on-one at the basket).

The perfect team player, Finelli concluded, is the one who is shown to be coachable by the leader, who continually learns and practices the fundamentals, who is reliable with teammates and who knows when to take responsibility for the choice. Turning negative into positive, having the courage to try, always looking ahead for the good of the team, and understanding how all of this corresponds to one’s individual growth are basic themes that a sport like a basketball can illustrate. A sport in which five people attack and five people defend, in which there are roles and positions, but where everyone has to be able to do everything. A discipline that demands training on fundamentals for the player’s entire life, with complex schemes to be learned and applied in the game.

It was a special day for the young students of the Master’s Degree in Business Management/Business Administration directed by Professor Angelo Manaresi, who met, in the morning in Italian and in the afternoon in English, a new and stimulating way of teaching with coach Alessandro Finelli in the brand new headquarters of ZonePlus. A cutting-edge Bologna structure born from the union of three different entrepreneurial realities: Basic To, a basketball coaching project by Davide Lamma; MVP, a creative video production agency; and Climarai Srl, a leading air conditioning company that is applying innovative technological solutions for air treatment and sanitization in this multifunctional space.

One of the unique opportunities that Bologna Business School makes available to the participants of its Master’s programs outside the excellent education offered in the classroom, is to translate theoretical knowledge into practical and expendable know-how, to try different approaches and stimulate, also through games, skills and desire to grow as a team. To soon become effective team players and successful future leaders.


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