What football coaches can teach corporate executives

Leadership Excellence Mentorship Trust

Leadership is a huge issue in business and in football.  Both institutions rely upon strong leadership for their success.  When it comes to leadership, there is something that football coaches can teach their counterparts in business.


Although there is a group of people who fall into a category referred to as “natural leaders”, these people are few and far between and in most cases they are unaware of what they have done or are doing to differentiate themselves as a leader.  Given they don’t really understand why they are promoted into leadership positions, they are usually incapable of developing the new leaders critical to growing their organizations.

The difference between football coaches and business executives is that football coaches have to develop and nurture leadership on their teams, whereas business executives will try to hire their leaders rather than “waste time” developing leadership skills.


Most high school and college coaches do not have the ability to hire players to fill the much-needed leadership roles.  They are forced to work with the hand they are dealt and teach or develop leadership skills.


Too many businesses prefer to take the lazy man’s approach and pay huge sums of money to recruiters to find and help them hire the leaders they need to grow their businesses.  There are certainly times when businesses have no alternative but to look outside, but all too often they take the lazy and expensive route and all too often suffer consequences they have not bargained for.


Why do businesses hire from outside when there are less expensive and more beneficial approaches available?  Here are just a few reasons:

  • They don’t understand leadership
  • They can’t recognize the leadership potential in their own people
  • They fall victim to the myth that leaders are born not made
  • They believe leadership development is too costly
  • They feel a sense of urgency which leadership development can’t fulfill
  • They are afraid they will not get their return on their investment if their people leave.
  • They may discover that they are not as good a leader as they thought they were.


If you are in business for the long haul, it might be of interest to you to review some of the benefits of investing in leadership development.  If you have more people who understand leadership and have leadership skills:

  • You can respond more quickly to change
  • You will attract higher quality people
  • You will build loyalty
  • You will cut or control costs
  • You will generate greater morale and productivity.

If you are stuck in this trap and afraid that leadership development would be too costly or too steep a hill to climb, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Here are some easy ways to jump start your path to sustained leadership growth:

  • Read a book to increase your understanding of leadership and its benefits. A few good ones include: “The Leadership Challenge”, “The Virgin Way”, “A Garage Full of Ferraris”, “Turn the Ship Around”
  • Take a leadership course
  • Invest in a leadership assessment for yourself and some of your direct reports
  • Subscribe to leadership insight newsletters or blogs
  • Hire a coach
  • Attend a seminar.

About Keith Johnston

I help people develop their ability to influence others.  I teach those who want to lead how to communicate more effectively and how to motivate their teams.  I speak on how to help your team reach it’s potential and how to generate extraordinary results by thinking out of the box.

Leadership – What Are You Afraid Of?

Leadership Excellence Trust

FEARThis may seem like a strange statement to some people; but it really is not strange at all to some of those in leadership positions and others who are candidates to fill a leadership position.  Many people fear leadership.

You might be thinking that I am going to tell you how ‘leaders’ fear making mistakes or perhaps they fear the accountability of being a leader.  There is no doubt that many leaders do have these fears; but I want to talk about those ‘leaders’ who actually fear leadership in the teams they lead.

First of all, this is not true of all leaders.  Those who are true leaders realize it is their responsibility to develop the leadership skills of the people in their organizations.  Exceptional leaders focus a lot of time helping the members of their team develop leadership skills.  Weak leaders go out of their way to suppress the leadership aspirations of the people they lead.  They do what they can to keep their people from developing leadership skills because they fear that those people may prove to be more effective leaders than they are.  They fear that if they invest in leadership development one or more of those on the team might ultimately replace them.  More often than not, these so-called leaders experience these fears because they never received leadership training, or they worked for weak or ineffective leaders and found themselves thrust into a leadership role only because they were the next person in line.  A surprisingly high percentage of those promoted into leadership roles have had no leadership training or coaching.  They work for organizations that believe the myths about leaders being born.  In that regard, they find they have to take on leadership responsibilities with only a vague idea of what is expected of them.  When this happens, the new leaders experience the fear of being held accountable or of not meeting expectations.

There are many people who fear taking on leadership responsibility because they have not had leadership training or coaching.  They have a fundamental fear of what they do not understand.  Perhaps they have watched leaders in the organization fail and fear that they will also fail.  More than likely the leaders who failed did so because no one ever took time to teach them how to lead.





It is true that many people who ultimately move into leadership positions have natural abilities which help them be effective leaders.  Others become good leaders because they learn from the behaviors of exceptional leaders.  But in the same way that professional athletes become the best in their sport through hard work and training, the best leaders become exceptional because of the training they receive, not simply the characteristics they are born with.

How do leaders deal with fear and failure?  15 successful leaders discuss the keys to their success, and I share my journey to $250 million in service revenue.

Click on the photo of the book to learn more:


Very few organizations are fortunate enough to have a barn full of “natural” leaders waiting to be promoted.  As a result, they are forced to thrust people without natural gifts into leadership positions.  More often than not these are field promotions because a previous leader was lost unexpectedly, or a need is created due to unexpected circumstances.
Given this, it seems odd to me that organizations refuse to invest even a little bit of time helping their people prepare for the leadership roles they may ultimately be forced into. And told to sink or swim.

To be continued…