Sports leadership is often a powerful analogy for analyzing business leaders and their behaviors in work, motivation and management.
Professional sports coaches are often upheld as role models for managers, and perhaps it’s because both managers and sports coaches have a lot in common. Both roles share leadership responsibilities, and both have organizational and strategic complexities.
Darren Herft is an Australian businessman who believes sports and business leadership are intrinsically linked. Darren attributes much of his business success and discipline to the fact that he had a strong foundation in sports from the early age of seven.
Today Herft runs a website where he discusses finance and economics, and he also runs another site where he discusses Australian Rules Football (AFL) and cricket. He believes that both sports and business go hand-in-hand and that both require sacrifice, commitment and discipline.
Here are a few ways business leaders can learn from sports leaders, and reasons why sports leadership is often popularized and upheld in business analogies.
Sports are about finances, but also about people. The same is true for businesses which are dependent on finances but also directed towards a much larger, encompassing picture. Both sports and business are about missions.
For many business leaders, the biggest challenge is to incentivize collaborators and get everybody on the same page. Incentivizing your team and stakeholders can be tricky, and the exact issue arises in sports environments as well.
Incentivization in both sports and business goes far beyond money, and leaders in both fields need to understand that there are both intrinsic and extrinsic reward factors that go into motivating their teams.
In sports, coaches do not determine pay for their athletes, so they need to find new ways to motivate players without using monetary compensation. This is one of the reasons why lessons in sports can be invaluable to business managers trying to motivate their teams.
There are also direct similarities between specific sports and businesses. In fact, they almost model each other under specific circumstances.
For example, soccer is similar to small and medium-sized businesses or organizations. It is characterized by specialized positions where players also have to be flexible and understand how to maintain the correct distances between each other during different phases throughout the game.
Small and medium sized enterprises also expect and rely on their employees to have specific highly developed competencies along with the ability to serve cross-functional roles. They are expected to be adaptable and cover a wider range of responsibilities while maintaining adequate distance, albeit communication between departments.
While employees follow their planned work processes in this environment, they are expected to respond to the needs of the specific project at hand.
Not every sports analogy makes sense in a business context, but it often helps to draw comparisons between sports and business to highlight the functions of teams.
Another important similarity between sports and business is the importance of credibility.
A coach can increase his or her ability to influence team members depending on their own personal qualities and actions that ultimately build their personal credibility.
Coaches often cite their credibility as their key to success in winning the confidence and trust of their team. The same is also often true for business leaders. Credibility often allows leaders to win the trust of their constituents.
Sports and business are closely linked and business leaders can learn from sports leaders.
That’s why Darren Herft authors both a sports site and his personal website where he shares tips about finance and economics.
To learn more about leadership, business and sports, you can visit Darren Herft’s official website for links to his latest publications and official websites.