Hints & Tips Blog

What has top level sport taught us about leadership?

You might be surprised by the connections to be found between business and sport. These utilise business know-how in the sporting field and sports inspiration in business.

Professional sports clubs cost money, not least in promotion, training, and kit. To help them handle the financial implications of modern sport, savvy entrepreneurs have taken a lead from successful business leaders. By emulating their activities, many football clubs, for example, have substantially increased their commercial revenues over the last 20 years.

On the other side of the balance, businesses have gained inspiration from sports and tried to emulate their leadership style. This focuses in particular on the need for a committed and powerful leader whom team members will follow.

This is now established history, but perhaps today there’s more to learn from this relationship. The 21st century has effected a subtle cultural change, where the traditional learning emphasis on performance and teamwork has expanded into a larger arena of opportunities for business to benefit.

  1. Leadership style

The most successful sports managers today have altered their leadership style, from a top-down command structure to a more community-based team approach. Sporting leaders still set the team’s agenda and plan their coaching and training schedules. However, they do support more independence in their players, giving them scope to think for themselves and encouraging them to own their individual actions and take responsibility for them.

  1. Changes in communication

Today’s successful sports manager is not a remote being behind closed doors, but someone who’s available to their players for consultation. In the modern approach, there are regular reviews of performance via feedback and open sessions. Today’s sporting leaders recognise that players in any sport must have the capacity to think for themselves and work effectively when they’re in a stressful game situation.

  1. Emotional intelligence: what is it and why is it important?

The most important factor in this more modern approach is the recognition of emotional intelligence in top-level sports. The best leaders have the competence and capability to tap into this powerful management technique, which helps them better understand their team members. They’re able to manage and control their own emotional responses, as well as those of their team, to pressures and events. This empowerment increases empathy and awareness improves their social skills and gives them the ability to adapt quickly to changing situations.

These skills are useful in any setting, and business leaders can take learn from these ideas and implement them. In the first instance, you should review your own management style to assess whether you’ve adapted to changing circumstances.

To help with this, consider the above points, think about what you can do differently, and how you might be able to implement new techniques.

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