Leadership Lessons From Sport - Proteus Leadership
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Leadership Lessons From Sport

Chances are, you will be watching sports soon. Any team sport is more than a chance to relax, eat or spend time with friends. Team sports offer you a leadership learning opportunity.
They really do.

The players will have a game plan to help them prepare to win and this article is your game plan for gleaning leadership lessons from the game. Unlike the players however, your game plan is a guaranteed winner. Here is a game plan for you – things you can look for that will certainly offer you lessons, ideas and even inspiration for your next week at work.

The power of persuasion

Many sports games are almost as famous for their commercials as they are for the game itself. Companies have hired very smart people and invested very large sums of money to try to persuade you about their products in just a few seconds. As you watch individual commercials, and as you think about them in total, what lessons can you take to help you be more persuasive in your work?

The importance of passion and energy

We expect professional athletes playing in a big game to be excited and have positive energy. In fact, if a team came out with no energy or passion to play, it would be the biggest story of the weekend. Why do we expect passion and enthusiasm from these players, but don’t expect it of ourselves or those around us? What lessons about energy, attitude and enthusiasm can you take from the game?

The role of coaching

Cameras will be focused on the coaches often during this game. While they can’t get on the field or make a play, they will have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. The difference in style alone between coaches is worth observing. That in itself is worthy of reflection – there is truly more than one way to be a successful leader and coach. How is your coaching style helping you and your team succeed?

The existence of momentum

Look for the moments when momentum shifts during the game. Suddenly, one team will leap ahead of the other and achieve a significant lead. Success breathes success and so momentum builds. There will be lessons for us off the field to help us create this shift on our team. What are you doing to create momentum for yourself and your team?

The necessity of preparation

Winners prepare to win. Both teams will come into the game well prepared, and without a doubt, preparation will play a role in the final outcome. Most people don’t spend nearly enough time or focus on preparing to succeed.
What does your preparation look like? What type of preparation do you expect from your team?

The value of agility and flexibility

Both teams will have a game plan, and both teams will adjust and tweak the plan as the game goes on. The most adaptable team will likely win. How adaptable, agile and flexible are you? Are you and your team able to shift focus when situations present themselves?

Each of these themes will have lessons associated with them, if you intentionally look, and they are just a start – rest assured there will be many other lessons. You may see examples worth emulating (or not). You may gain a story to illustrate a point in your next presentation. When you look for the leadership lessons in sports events, you will most certainly find them.

Enjoy the game – and hopefully with this game plan, you will gain some leadership lessons as well.

By Kevin Eikenberry

Published with permission from the International Institute of Directors and Managers (IIDM) – www.iidmglobal.com


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”