Watching a strong and cohesive sports squad perform on the pitch is always a pleasure for the eyes, whether it is a football, basketball, or water polo team. Behind the triumphs of every successful club, there is usually a leader who knows exactly how to piece the perfect puzzle together.
In this respect, business owners and managers have a similar task to sports coaches. They need to guide a team of employees towards one common goal with commitment, efficiency, and a sense of unity.
Here, we look at some of the effective ways in which athletes and coaches boost team development while highlighting how this may benefit the business world.
One of the most important steps you can take to nurture your team is to allow relationships of trust and confidence to develop in the workplace. In sport, teammates rely on each other’s help when they need it and will go above and beyond to support their ‘colleagues’. This is because they are confident that when it’s their turn to face a challenging situation, their fellow players will also be ready to aid them.
Therefore, instilling a sense of trust and confidence in a team can increase instances of mutual support, which favour the squad or the business as a whole. Indeed, your people will be more likely to be open about their experiences and will feel comfortable seeking help when they need it.
What’s more, as a company owner or manager, you act as your team’s coach. By keeping a high moral standard and setting an example, you will secure the trust of your staff. This is important as they will soon realise that they can rely on you to lead them out of tricky situations. In turn, they will do anything to take your side and strive to make your business thrive.
Ultimately, the most successful sports teams seem to genuinely enjoy playing together, trusting each other both on and off the pitch.
Communication is essential when it comes to rowing in the same direction and working towards the same goals. You will notice that any sports team in action will communicate constantly, signalling the presence of an opponent and advising on what pass or move to make next. On the touchline, the coach generally acts as a motivator, encouraging his players and offering instructions as the game unfolds.
In the same way, businesses should value communication as a vital tool too. Outlining tasks, purpose, and vision in a clear, transparent manner has an array of advantages. For instance, it can increase employee engagement, improve productivity, generate a healthy workplace culture, and boost people’s job satisfaction.
Moreover, a leader or manager should not shy away from celebrating their team member’s accomplishments. At the end of a match, coaches often publicly gratify the best-performing players for their efforts and performance. Similarly, it is essential for business leaders to recognise their employees’ hard work and share their accomplishments with the wider team. Not only will this boost their morale and self-confidence, but it will also ensure that they continue in the right direction.
One of the key ingredients contributing to a team’s effectiveness and overall success is ‘psychological safety’. This refers to someone’s perception of taking a risky decision and, in turn, how their teammates will respond when that risk is taken. In a psychologically safe environment, employees will feel free to throw ideas, offer suggestions, and ask for help. Conversely, in a more rigid workplace, they may keep to themselves and contribute little due to the fear of making mistakes.
In sports, coaches will condone mistakes, especially if made with good intentions. For example, a player decides to make a tricky pass toward a free teammate. If it doesn’t go to plan and the ball is intercepted, their team could suffer a counter-attack and may even end up conceding. If they succeed in their intent, they may actively be giving their squad a goal-scoring opportunity to win the game.
Likewise, in business, employees should be allowed to make mistakes. People can grow in a workplace where they have space to learn from their own errors and failures rather than feeling uncertainty or shame. Moreover, an out-of-the-box idea could work wonders for the success of a specific project. Therefore, as a business manager, offer your people the opportunity to take a chance, and don’t blame them if the end result is not always what you hoped for.
In the world of sports, athletes change clubs on a regular basis. Similar to the business world, individuals are likely to move to a place where they may fit better, or that offers them a career-changing opportunity. Based on new arrivals, the coach and their team may have to adapt to a slightly different style of play and shift responsibilities. This may be daunting at first but can lead to great success in the long term. Change is a constant in sports, and sports teams need to be versatile and ready to deal with change.
A business leader should cherish changes and new possibilities too. It is an opportunity for the company to explore new horizons and benefit from the knowledge of new talented hires. In fact, with new knowledge and competencies within the team, you can start exploring different paths. Therefore, embracing a flexible approach and responding accordingly to diverse scenarios can truly benefit the business and allow employees to leave a tangible mark.
There is no hiding that business leaders can learn many lessons from sports teamwork. From nurturing sentiments of trust and making space for mistakes to embracing change and nailing your communication, there are several factors that managers should take into consideration.