Jan 16, 2011

7 Great management practices I recognize in sport

You might be tired of endless analogies of business with sports, but I will offer you a short selection of 7 great management practices I like in sport that I recommend for business management (based on my love of sports combined with nearly 20 years of business management and consulting experience.)

Sport (like business) is challenging and competitive. It takes and produces passion and needs commitment, dedication and sacrifice. Yet, success is not guaranteed. How challenging is that?

For all who suspect girls are watching sports just because there is plenty of good looking, young, famous, rich and fit guys - I say it is a bonus. Gone are the times when football (soccer) players were wearing ridiculous hairstyles, or were symbols of looking embarrassing. (Can you believe all men on the photos are a football players nowadays?)

Now I'll try to prove to you I appreciate other things about sport except stunning looking men. I am enjoying the game, competition, display of amazing talents and emotions.


1. Expectations are always clear: Always win, and often there is a clear target by how much you need to win.

By making your expectations clear you will never go wrong as a manager. Actually it is one of 12 Elements of Great Management.

This is one of the reasons I enjoyed working in manufacturing. I knew exactly every day what and how much has to get out of production lines I was managing, by what time, and for what customer. This told me every day if I did good, great or miserable job, although I had a boss who was very vocal in letting me know how I was doing.

2. Feedback is timely and facts based. In sport you always know where you stand, how you did, if you are a star, or a loser and why.

This means you don’t need to wait for the yearly appraisal to find out something is wrong (like it happens in some organizations) and you can do something about it immediately.

3. Nobody casts you in roles you are not the best in, telling you they are ‘’areas for improvement.’’ It’s normal to be excellent in one or two things, not expected to be ‘’well rounded and do all equally well.’’ If you are the best striker - that is your position in the team. If you are defender, midfielder or goalkeeper no one is telling you ''OK, but you are not a striker.'' You do what you do best and that is your role in the team.

In some companies, they take all you do well for granted and concentrate only on things you are not perfect in, pushing you to improve there in order to be ''well rounded.'' This often makes you feel bad, bored and like mediocrity.

4. You can not impose a leader on a team. It comes out organically. Leader grows out of a team. He won their respect and trust on the way.

Apparently there are other ways of arriving to a leadership position in companies I hear about. I know a position does not make you a leader but it does give you authority, exposure and greater chance to influence (more) people.

5. You have to walk the talk. In sport - talk is not enough. You can show results, and must produce results all the time. You can not talk your way into a company/team by just sweet talking, tweaking your resume, or impressing them with your smart, tailored answers. You can be the best talker, but will never go far based on talk.

6. You have to learn, practice and think every day. Every champion possesses talent, knowledge, skills and trains every day to improve them. The best player with the best coach is the winning combination.

The most famous and successful managers and business leaders never stop learning and work with the best coaches. If you would like to grow as a leader and get valuable support, check out COACHING page.

7. You must BELIEVE in success to be able to win. ''In my mind, I'm always the best. If I walk out on the court and I think the next person is better, I've already lost.'' says Venus Williams. Still, you can not fool yourself. Confidence is crucial but is not enough. You can think you are the best all you want but ranking will quickly show you if you are only dreaming or you really are the best. Nobody can ''cover'' for you in individual sport and neither in teams. At best they can not cover for you indefinitely.

What facts are common for sports and business?

The best player is not equally successful in all teams.

You can get individual stars on the team and still not have expected result.

The same team with different coach/manager gets surprisingly different results.

It is necessary to get up and get going after you lose.

And now you

If you apply these practices in your management job or in your business you will never go wrong. I am sure you can remember other lessons from sports that apply to business/management or leadership. So, help me update this list please.

PS: For all who wondered who are the guys that are making my post looking like this, here is the list: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Kaka (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Alexandre Pato (Milan), Fernando Torres (Liverpool). Ladies, it was very hard to pick just five...

To get more articles, updates, free or special offers, to download my e-book''Productive Executive/Manager - Manage Interruptions at Work'', or get new video course ''How to Present Better Than Ever & Anyone'' join the mailing list if you haven't done so already.


  1. Very good one. Congratz.

  2. Thank you. I am happy to hear that and always looking forward to your feedback, ideas or suggestions.


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