From Football To Business

Every time I address the leadership topic, I like to support my opinions with experiences from the coaching I do for football (and other sports) teams.
Coaching is an individual development process in which the coach supports someone to achieve their objectives, through a set of techniques that unleash all the potential the person has. When I work with a sports team, I choose to do work, on the one hand, individually with the coach, and on the other hand, with the players. As to the coach, I focus primarily on developing processes that help them improve and consolidate their leadership, so that the team understands their message more effectively. Regarding the work with the players, I’m mainly interested in developing a self-centred attitude already aligned with the objectives defined by the club’s and/or coaching team’s vision. 

The coach mainly wants to have a well-prepared, motivated, and highly-skilled team because when the time comes, it is the players who have to score goals, not the technical-tactical training. I understand that the coach should orient their job according to at least three factors: 

  1. Identify the skills that each player needs to improve 
  2. Thoroughly practice these skills with each player and the team 
  3. Develop and/or improve their leadership 

This combination considerably improves the chances of success, as the focus is on improving the team’s performance, which only happens along with an effective and fostering leadership by the coach. 

As a company consultant and coach, I like to build this “bridge” between leadership practises in sports and business teams because, in reality, organisations share several similarities with sports. 

Within companies, we can also apply the three items I mentioned earlier: 

  1. Skills identification: using tools, such as assessments, to recognise strengths and areas of opportunity 
  2. Skills practice: through coaching and training processes, focusing on the results of the assessment  
  3. Leadership development: through executive coaching processes created for leaders. As in sports, it is the employees that have to “score goals” in an increasingly competitive business championship. Thus, the leader has to create conditions for their team to be better prepared, focused, and motivated every week. 

Business leaders must be genuinely focused on the progress of their employees, helping them grow because, generally, they are “on the field” working to achieve results every day. Because of this, I like to create and apply leadership development programmes in companies, inspiring good management practises and sports team motivation as, after all, a leader must be… a coach!