What management can learn from sports coaches

Reports | Sport
Tara Bryant, SVP of Sales, Pipedrive

Written by Tara Bryant, SVP of Sales, Pipedrive

One of the defining qualities of a good manager is their ability to help their team learn and grow quickly so they can reach their full potential.

However, in order to achieve this and empower teams, managers need to strike the right balance between micromanagement and over-delegation. By controlling the behaviour of their team too closely, they’re not allowing them to learn organically, which can lead to frustration.

On the other hand, if teams are not sufficiently supported they will be ill-prepared for unexpected obstacles. While treading the line between these two pitfalls is a defining challenge of the managerial role, there is a group of people who achieve this regularly and may not even realise it: sports coaches.

Fundamentally, it is a sports coach’s responsibility to ensure that their team is prepared to win. This involves helping their team understand the best strategies for success and the potential obstacles they may face. However, in preparing their team, the coach cannot simply play the game for them; nor can they just tell them how to play.

Neither of these coaching styles allows the team to develop their skills and realise their potential. To be a good coach, they have to provide a structured environment where their team can experience what winning feels like by playing for themselves and learning from their mistakes.

The reality is that practice does not make perfect but practice does increase the odds of success. To help the team prepare for an upcoming game, the coach must make sure the team has some strategies and plays that will help them win. No individual should be tasked with this – it should be the role of the coach. Once the game is underway, the coach is not allowed to touch the ball.

The coach should take notes and observe the performance but stay out of the game. This lets the players truly experience what the full responsibility of getting that ball into the goal actually feels like. This is where mistakes happen, and the opportunity for constructive feedback appears.

In many ways, a successful manager resembles a successful sports coach. Just like a coach, managers should be honing the skills of their team by letting them practice. Through observing their team’s performance and allowing them to develop their skills in an independent but guided structure, the team will be prepared for success. It is within these environments that true learning occurs. Managers should leave the day-to-day work to the teams but should be shaping the outcome and setting their teams up for success by defining the strategy and ensuring they are have enough (and varied) experience.

People are a critical competitive asset for companies, and managers are responsible for a massive return on that investment. By shaping the game they play today and teaching them, they can play a harder, more challenging game tomorrow.

Did you enjoy reading this content?  To get more great content like this subscribe to our magazine

Reader's Comments

Comments related to the current article

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *