Coaching Corporate Athletes

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Photo Credit: CNN


Executive Coaching helps strong managers become even stronger. Their success is ultimately your success as a leader. The same can be said of Olympic coaches and the athletes they coach.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review looked at various coaching tactics and strengths that have helped coaches produce winning athletes in high pressure situations. Five keys to success are identified as:

  1. Help your “athletes” understand and learn to use their talents and skills in the work environment. Allow them to be creative. When creativity is allowed, employees feel free to use their interest and skills to build a better product. Take the time to build in space for creative uses of skills into different projects.
  2. Build a strong, transparent relationship with your mentee, to establish an open line of communication with them. Honesty is key. Olympic athletes have usually had the same coach since they were youngsters; even if they adopt other coaches along the way, their original mentor and trainer is always there to support them on game-day.
  3. For athletes, training is the most important part. They must be up-to-date on the latest rules, techniques and competitor training habits and performances. The workplace is similar. Prod your employees to investigate new technologies, and encourage attendance at training sessions, industry-relevant conferences and membership organizations.
  4. Athletes receive different types of support including financial, motivational, nutritional, and more. Help steer your employees in the right direction and make it easier for them to “win.” Steering may look like helping your employees find grants for departmental team-building activities or building relationships with cross-organizational teams. Steering may also look like helping hire strong managers who will be able to appoint appropriate project leaders.
  5. I found the 5th point to be the most compelling: managing the environment for your employees. You know your organization and industry inside and out so give your employees the perspective needed to help them create innovative solutions they can carry with them to future leadership positions.

Have you seen this parallel between athletic coaches and workplace leadership? How did it impact your team and organization? Leave me a comment below.

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