What football coaches can teach corporate executives

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 Excellence Mentorship Trust

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