How Leaders Affect Team Performance: Key Lessons from Professional Sports Coaches: The World of Sport Can Provide a Template of How to Get the Best out of a Team, Argue the Authors of Leading Teams

Financial Management (UK), June 2013 | Go to article overview

How Leaders Affect Team Performance: Key Lessons from Professional Sports Coaches: The World of Sport Can Provide a Template of How to Get the Best out of a Team, Argue the Authors of Leading Teams


Leading teams often presents the ultimate challenge in most organisations, but what lessons can business executives learn from professional sports coaches?

The first key lesson is that effective sports coaches build credibility with multiple stakeholders at different levels. The legitimacy derived from stakeholders outside the team typically gives the coach more credibility both with the team as a whole and with individual team members. As stated by basketball coach Sasha Djordjevic: "If you want to win, you always have to keep five things under control: the owner; the fans; the press; staff; and the players and their technical preparation. If you want to succeed on the court, you have to earn your reputation with the others."

Similarly, in the world of business, being respected by external parties will make the team leader more credible in front of their team members.

The second key message from our study is that, to improve team performance, team leaders should create the conditions for all members to engage in behaviour that supports their teammates, building up their skills and strengthening their motivation. …

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