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Sports Leaders - What Can We Learn

Top : Sports Leaders - What Can We Learn

What Can We Learn About Leadership From Sports?

Not much! Every time major sporting events take place, there's a plethora of discussion about the importance of leadership.

When a team does poorly, there is talk about a lack of leadership. When a team does well, there's talk about leadership.

What gets lost is that the role of leadership, even in an artificial world like sports, is far from clear.

Then there's the issue of whether the role of leader in sports has much in common with leadership in our organizations elsewhere.

How Important Is A Single Leader In Sports?

Intuitively, we believe that leadership is incredibly important, both in and out of the sporting world. There's probably no way to test this empirically, and there is really no way to assess the value, or lack thereof, of any single leader, say a general manager, or coach or team owner.

However, there's one telling fact. Team leaders in most sports do not sustain their ability to win over time. The large majority of coaches in team sports like baseball, hockey and football have both winning and losing seasons. There are very few coaches that win consistently year after year.

Also if you track the records of coaches who change teams, you find that winning coaches, leading different teams, are no longer winners. And vice versa. Likewise for players considered leaders, who may thrive in one place and not in the next.

It's About Leadership Teams

In sports, the key is to have in place leadership teams that can create ways of doing things that survive changes in leader personnel. That's to say that, in effect, the value of any single person is limited. It has to be the right people at the right time. That happens rarely.

Is Sports Leadership Relevant To Other Sectors

Most people think so, at least according to the vast majority of what is written about the topic.

However, the environments are so different, that it's questionable whether anything substantial and detailed, can be learned from leaders in professional sports, although one can find great quotes.

Before reading some of the resource below, consider:

  • Individual players in team sports have remarkably little decision making responsibility compared to employees in other sectors. The coaches decide everything, from who does what, to strategy, and so on.
  • In sports, there is only one winning team each season, whereas in the rest of the world, multiple organizations can win, and even cooperate to do so.
  • Sports management and leadership are far more authoritarian than elsewhere.
  • Those being "led" are different, often with guaranteed contracts and a degree of financial security (if they choose it), and degrees of fame and media exposure.
  • For most sports, the direct leader (the person players interact with daily) is the coach or manager. The turnover in professional sports is quite high, so most players will have three or four coaches, at least. Often coaches get only a few years to succeed (win) before being turfed.

Other Views On Learning From Leaders In The Sports World

  • Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership By Skip Prichard
    Interview with one of the authors of Lead Me Out to the Ballgame: Stories and Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership. Outlines ten "bases" for improving leadership in baseball. (Added: 10-Feb-2016 Hits: 649 )

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Pages Updated On: 31-May-2021 - 13:54:11


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