Lead Like a Champion: Advice from Sports Leaders For Boardroom Leaders
In the News
June 28, 2024
While sports and business may seem disparate, they share fundamental principles and the same ultimate goal of...winning.

Sports and business share a need for clear communication, strategic coaching, and strong team cultures. Read below to learn about the strategies employed by a few of the greatest coaches in American history and how you can apply them to your role as a business executive.

“Every moment is a teaching moment." - Pat Summitt

Set - and Communicate - Clear Goals

Perhaps paramount to successful leadership is communicating clear goals. When every team member understands the broad business goal and their role within it, they are often more motivated and focused in achieving success. Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United and widely regarded as the most successful manager in British football history, set ambitious goals for his team as a whole, as well as tailored to each individual player’s strength. While he constantly reminded his players the ultimate goal they were working towards, he also intimately knew each of his player’s strengths, and communicated their specific role in achieving victory as a team.

Give Real-Time Feedback

Pat Summitt, the most successful college basketball coach (at the time of her retirement), was known to give immediate, court-side feedback, both positive and constructive. In providing instruction in the moment of execution, this creates a learning environment for the player. Similarly, when giving negative feedback, Summitt would always follow with instruction, again enabling her players to learn from the situation. As Summitt said herself, “Every moment is a teaching moment.”  In the world of business, an executive can use the same approach: address issues promptly and provide real-time feedback to allow your employees growth and development.

Build a Strong Team Culture

Any sports team relies on the trust, collaboration, and camaraderie of its players in order to succeed. This wasn’t lost on Phil Jackson, the NBA’s most successful coach, who famously said: “The strength of a team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” A woman in business can take the same approach to her organization, in taking care to foster mutual respect among team members and making each individual feel valued, so that they may be more motivated to ensure the team’s overall success.

You don’t have to be well-versed in sports to implement these principles. The formula is simple in both sports and business: clear goals + training + a cohesive team = growth. Women in business can gain profound insights from observing the strategies of accomplished sports leaders, easily translating them from off the court and into the office.

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