Sports leadership in the workplace

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Sports leadership in the workplace

The leadership and coaching concepts that apply to the workplace are almost the same as those found in sports. As a coach or a manager, you’re trying to motivate your “players” to reach their full potential.  And when everyone on the team understands the direction and strategy the manager / coach has developed, then success is much easier to obtain.

Head Coaches as Leaders

As a head coach, you’ve got position power over all the players.  After all, you’re determining the starting lineup.  But as a coach, you need to understand that your role needs to be more than just a good judge of a player’s abilities.  You need to be a leader.  That means treating players with the respect they deserve.  That also means understanding that the same leadership techniques do not apply to all players.

Getting the Most Out of Players

Leaders are made, they are not born.  They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.  It’s not easy to be an effective leader, you need to work hard to gain the confidence of the team and understand the motivations of each player.

Fortunately there are some simple sport leadership rules that apply to all leadership situations, including the workplace:

  • Treat players with respect and you will earn their respect.
  • Try to understand each player on the team well enough to be able to identify their specific strengths and weaknesses.
  • Lead by example – if you expect players to be on time, then you should never be late for a meeting yourself.
  • Share your strategy with your players.  It is much easier for players to support a strategy if they understand it.
  • Remain decisive and confident.  A coach’s confidence can be contagious.  If the players know that you believe in them, then they might start believing in themselves too.
  • Finally, instruct players in a positive manner – tell them what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do.

This point is often missed by inexperienced coaches and leaders.  For example, if you’re at a critical point in a tennis match, don’t tell the player:

“Whatever you do, don’t throw the ball too far forward on your serve.”

Instead, you should say:

“I want you to serve strong, fast and accurate – ace it!”

Claire Harrison, Harrison Human Resources,, 3286 6035.



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