A recent speaker I saw presented the theory that a majority of sports teams are run better than most businesses. My first impression – what are you talking about?
Having taken the time to think about it though, I think he is absolutely right. Stay with me while we play a bit of business tennis.
If you asked any sports coach or sports administrator they will tell you that they start the season by setting goals. More often than not the goal is to win a grand final. We all know there can only be one premier but at the start of each year every team (the most successful ones anyway) set out to achieve the ultimate prize.
On the other hand, when I ask most business owners to tell me their goals, do you know what I hear? More often than not I get crickets. And not the sporting kind.
“Goals, errr, we don’t worry about that stuff!”
What the hell are you talking about? How can you not have a goal? As leading business author Zig Ziglar says, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
Goals – 15 love, sports team.
Once the sports team have set their goals, they put plans in place to achieve them. Recruiting plans, team rules, team structures, training regimes, fundraising and so on. There are plans for everything with people allocated responsibility for executing them. Everyone knows what is expected of them when faced with any possible situation.
In comparison most businesses fly blind. They don’t have a strategy to attract new customers, they don’t have a plan to deal with complaints, they don’t have a program to induct and train their team. They simply make it up as they go along. No wonder the results are underwhelming!
Plan – 30 love, sports team.
What does every sports team have that most business don’t? You guessed it, a coach. In some cases the leading teams have multiple coaches. Forwards coaches, defensive coaches, shooting coaches, nutrition coaches, running coaches and the list goes on. Even at a basic level most teams have at least a senior coach and an assistant coach.
Coaches are more than people that blow whistles, they are leaders. They direct, they mentor, they strategize, they motivate. They are the ones responsible for the performance of their team.
Sadly most businesses lack effective leadership. More often than not the owners or managers of businesses spend most of their time working in the business and not on it. They don’t lead, they don’t inspire, they just do stuff and hope the stuff they are doing is right!
Leadership – 40 love, sports team.
Finally, let’s consider the makeup of the team. Each sports team has a certain number of players, each having different skills and attributes. The players often have different skills from one another or are capable of different levels of performance. You have a group of premier players, a batch of solid contributors and you have a final tier of players that make up the reserves. To complicate this at the end of each season 25-30% of the players retire, shift clubs or leave for some other reason. This means they have to recruit new talent.
Successful teams manage this by having a strong culture that attracts the right people and players to the club that will make a positive contribution. They are not there just to make up the numbers, they are there to make a difference. They give more than just their time and a bit of effort to the cause, the give their heart. They are involved because they love it!
Culture – Game set and match, sports team!