Whether you’re a brand new entrepreneur or a seasoned executive, you’ve probably heard a few sports metaphors bandied about. Phrases such as "the ball’s in their court," "take one for the team," "hit it out of the park," and countless others commonly pop up in business speech. But, if you really want a blueprint for success, you may want to look past the metaphors and gather inspiration from some of the country’s top athletes and coaches.
Perhaps the world’s best hockey coach, Mike Babcock is the only coach in history to lead teams to wins in the Stanley Cup, the World Championship, and the Olympic Games. To learn about his leadership strategy, you can check out his book "Leave No Doubt: A Credo for Chasing Your Dreams." Or, you can simply look at his career and notice that he never seems to give up. He’s spoken repeatedly about the importance of discipline and hard work, and after a loss, he always watches the replay to find ways to improve. That constant commitment to excellence is something that everyone should embrace in their leadership strategy.
The head coach of Canada’s women’s hockey team, Melody Davidson is another leader who exhibits qualities that can be extremely useful for entrepreneurs to follow. She started as a player, but after retiring, she worked her way up to being a coach. This story underscores the importance of getting experience before you jump into a leadership role. Even once you’re on the top, you may want to spend some time working in the other parts of your company so you get a better understanding of what your employees are going through or what your customers are experiencing.
Beyond that, Davidson emphasizes the importance of recruiting from outside the inner circle. She’s spoken extensively about how hockey coaches tend to recruit coaches they’ve worked with in the post, a trend which keeps the industry relatively closed to female coaches. To avoid this happening in your own business, you may want to watch out for situations where you’re thinking about promoting or hiring someone you know. Then, to ensure you’re getting the best person for the job, you may want to cast your net a bit wider and include more applicants.
As captain of the Canada women’s soccer team, Christine Sinclair has become known for her leadership style. To keep her team going, she turns to inspirational pep talks and warns her team about getting too downhearted. When your team faces challenges, they’d probably like to hear similar uplifting messages.
She also claims to be a quiet person who leads by example, which can be very powerful in a business environment. Finally, she also admits to relaxing on the golf course, and in that same vein, you also need to remember to give yourself time to recharge.
Your employees and customers are inspired by great stories, and many of those are found in the world of sports. When you embrace that inspiration and act like a great coach by incorporating the stories and leadership techniques of sports into your own leadership style and communication, every game you watch can spur you to new heights.