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Ball Field to Boardroom: 3 Leadership Strategies from Top Coaches


leadership strategies 3Small business owners looking to make their businesses more successful need look no further than ESPN for inspiration. The sports world has no shortage of successful leaders who have nuggets of wisdom to share with those who want to make their organization more productive, hardworking, and efficient. Plus, who would you rather read advice from? Some obscure business analyst you've never heard of, or somebody who's had front-row seats to wicked dunks from the best athletes to ever play the game? Yep. That's why I thought. With that in mind, THINQ is here with 3 leadership strategies from successful coaches that can be applied to your business.

"Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We." - Phil Jackson

At first glance, this quote from the Zen Master himself sounds like advice for the employees rather than the employer. So how does it apply to you, the one in a leadership position?

You're the one responsible for picking your team.

The best employee is the one who is committed to what your company is trying to accomplish -- the one who has bought in to the mission statement, not the one who is just there to collect a paycheck. Find those people. Find them, hire them, and invest in them. Help them to succeed in helping your business succeed, and then reward them for it.

"Success isn't permanent, and failure isn't fatal." - Mike Ditka

In business -- as in life -- it's important to keep moving ahead, regardless of past success or failure. As a rule, no individual success or failure defines a business; how one responds to success and failure is a much more accurate indicator of the potential of the organization.

If one uses success as an indicator of what works and builds on it, it's a good thing. If it's used as justification for complacency -- the "Check me out -- I got this!" phenomenon -- you're just asking for trouble.

What about failure? There are two sides to that coin, as well. If you take an individual failure to heart and roll over, perhaps you don't belong in a position of leadership in the first place. Too harsh? Not at all. Perhaps one of the most accurate indicators of a successful leader is resilience. Analyze the circumstances and decisions that contributed to the failure, and make the appropriate corrections.

Perhaps Samuel Beckett said it best: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Did I just work in a quote from a renowned playwright into a "jock" post? You bet I did. Beckett may not have coached a team to the Super Bowl, but the man could turn a phrase.

"The willingness to experiment with change may be the most essential ingredient to success at anything." - Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt knows a little something about being successful. After all, she's the winningest coach in college basketball history -- men's or women's.

Change is a vital part of any company's game plan. If your business is unsuccessful, it's obvious that SOMETHING needs to change. But what if things are going well? If you're happy with being the fourth-best company in your market, maybe your current strategy is sufficient. But if the term "moderately successful" is anathema to your business sensibilities, you must be willing to tinker with your business strategy -- even if it's a successful one. This may mean temporary dips in productivity, income, or whatever measure of success you're currently using, but that's just part of the experimentation process. Be patient and give new strategies a fighting chance to work. Keep those that do and learn from those that don't.

Can you think of any other leadership strategies from successful coaches that could be applied to small businesses? Please share them in the comments!

Image credit: Korye Logan


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