5 Ways A Sports Mentality Helps Leaders

Olympics Gold

Many of the analogies used in business refer to sports in some way. Indeed, many of the attributes needed to be successful in business are shared with team sports.

Whether or not you have played sports, there are several ways that effective sports strategies can be applied directly to your role as a business leader.

The 5 Ways

If you find yourself striving to build a more cohesive and motivated team, consider the following 5 ways the sports mentality grooms effective leadership skills points borrowed from the sports world:

  • Role Playing
  • Resilience
  • Competition
  • Variety
  • Inspiration

Role Playing

Everyone on a Team has a Role to Play

Great coaches make sure their teams have the best tools, quality training and regular practice time. Athletes know their role, want to succeed and give their all to the team effort.

Effective business leaders set their teams up for success in the same way, securing the best possible tools, training and mentoring necessary to increase effectiveness. Each team member needs to have a clear role complete with team goals and personal expectations in order to monitor progress over time.

Effective teams are involved in their own assessment and feel comfortable enough to voice needs and concerns openly and honestly.

Teams start with trust. Just like the best coaches, the best business leaders establish authenticity and trust before all else.


Elite Teams are Resilient

Athletes know that winning means being responsive to change. A teammate’s injury, an unexpected weather delay, or an opponent’s surprising strategy all mean one thing: be resilient or perish.

Effective leaders teach resilience and creative problem-solving by example.

Tough times can bring increased team cohesion. Rewarding innovation increases the likelihood that someone on your team will offer up a winning solution when the clock is running down in the fourth quarter.


Competition Makes for a Stronger Team

Team players understand that competition is part of the game. Individual challenges, team benchmarks, and organizational records are motivating forces with varying degrees of rewards.

Smart business leaders know that setting challenges that stretch but do not defeat a team can be a strong motivator for ongoing success.

Establishing rewards that make the team feel valued, recognized and appreciated is part of what makes the team strive for excellence. Coaches know there is a balance in the give and take that must be respected and nurtured if the team is to keep up momentum.


Variety is the Spice of Life

New challenges and fresh ideas in training and coaching are vital to the longevity of excellence. High-powered teams need variety, ongoing and engaging professional development and a creative approach toward tasks.

Effective leaders mix it up to keep the team from being bored.

Visualization, journaling, and keeping records of practice time are among the ways to shoot for success in sports. Business leaders can provide parallel strategies to help teams review progress and set goals.

Providing “lunch and learn” sessions with other industry speakers, offering a series of webinars and making online courses available are ways to keep employees engaged and can also offer new perspectives on the familiar.


Effective Leaders can Find Inspiration in the World of Sports

Taking inspiration from top coaches and elite athletes can help business leaders find creative strategies to motivate employees. Establishing trust and integrity with your team may be the first step toward gaining support in order to take calculated risks and try new ideas.

In intercultural business settings, drawing from some basic diversity training the knowledge of areas such as sports can bolster your management skills.

Providing quality tools, education, and training shows your team members how much you value their contributions of hard work and problem solving.

Rewarding innovation helps leaders strengthen team resilience and promote team excellence to secure success over the long haul. Ongoing professional development for leaders and team members allows each party to feed the other with fresh knowledge and ideas.


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Jason Monaghan is Specialist at Notre Dame Online Executive Education
He serves his clients with development and distribution of content strategies
Email | LinkedIn | Web 

Image Sources:l.yimg.com

One response to “5 Ways A Sports Mentality Helps Leaders

  1. Pingback: 3 Steps to Influential Leadership: Step 1 – Allowance « Linked 2 Leadership·

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