A couple of years ago, I moved to a different city and that forced me to stop doing something I was passionate about: sports coaching. I had been coach to elite athletes between the ages of 11 and 18. I like to think that I was a fairly decent coach and in fact, I had quite a bit of success. Now, many people may think success is a reflection of the number of wins or championships a coach has under his belt. I must admit to having my fair share of wins and championships. In fact when my kids found my secret box of medals they immediately thought they had found a pirate’s treasure chest. However, wins and championships are part of what makes a coach successful, but it’s far from being everything.
Early on in life, I realized that there was always someone behind the scenes that helped champions rise to the top of their game. Behind every Gretzky, every Brady, every Ronaldo there was an organization, a staff and a coach. Everyone strived to support these elite athletes to help them develop to their full potential. As a result, these champions are renowned around the world for their accomplishments.
Everyone remembers a champion: from Cristiano Ronaldo’s numerous goals or Wayne Gretzky’s NHL records to Tom Brady’s accomplishments on the field or Roger Federer’s endless success, we never forget their prowess. It’s another ball game when it comes to remembering Alex Ferguson’s famous second half EUFA strategy call, Scotty Bowman’s Stanley Cup winning third period lineup or Bill Belichik’s Super Bowl winning fourth quarter offensive plan. In fact, many people might not even know who any of these coaches are and especially how they were instrumental to their team’s success. Why is that?
There are many commonalities between these coaches. One of the most important traits they share is that they quickly understood their role in the organization. Coaches are not on the field, they are not on the ice nor are they on the courts, the players are. This may seem like a simplistic observation, but it is often forgotten in the sports domain. Organizations become dynasties by aligning their efforts towards the same objective; which is basically to deliver a winning team. Again, this seems really obvious in the world of sports but not so much in the corporate world. Why?
Winning sports organizations have long understood that strongly supporting players on the field is by far the best investment they can make. There seems to be a simple understanding within these organizations: management is responsible for setting purpose, values, culture and mindset.
The coaching staff supports the team and the players are responsible for bringing everything to fruition. It’s a fairly basic framework when you think about it. The people at the top support the teams below and so on. Sounds like a simple framework right? Well, yes and no.
The reality as seen by the corporate world is slightly different than that of a sports organization. I believe this to be a simple matter of perspectives. What does it take to put this framework in place and turn your organization into a long lasting dynasty?
In short, a simple change in culture and mindset starting at the executive level.
Catch my next piece for a follow-up to this article: Building Your Way Down Towards Agile Organisations