The correlation might not seem obvious to begin with but businessmen can learn a lot from the way that sports teams operate. Not least because most businesses (excluding sole traders obviously) are in fact teams of individuals hopefully working towards a common goal! 

Delegation is key!

Much in the same way as footballers, for example, pass the ball, businessmen must also learn delegation is key to the success of many enterprises. In fact, an individual is usually nothing without the team around them. Even in businesses like investment banker where there are ‘rain makers’ who actually close the deals, the deals themselves would never actually get done without the team of lawyers, accountants and number crunchers who are there to execute the process.

Those businessmen who master the art of delegation know that in fact they are simply making their lives easier – the more they delegate the better the people around them become and so the more helpful they will be in similar future scenarios!

People have different skills

Allied closely to what has been said earlier, teams are made up of a whole spectrum of different people with different skillsets and leveraging all of this ability is to get the most out of your team and to win the game. It is only in the team becoming greater than the sum of its parts that true and lasting success can be built!

Shout for the ball!

It might seem very obvious but so many business professionals forget that clear communication is key to effective teamwork, much in the same way as footballers or rugby players shout for the ball so that their team mate becomes aware that they are there. It is simple but so often overlooked. Asking for what you want helps your team mates and over time if everyone does it, trust and confidence is instilled into your ‘players”.

Bench strength

Over the past few years one of the facets of sports teams that has become very apparent is that it is not just the starting team that ensures or is responsible for success. It is often the substitutes on the bench or what Eddie Jones the England Rugby Union coach calls the finishers. They are there, as a fresh pair of legs and indeed eyes, to ensure that there is not loss of momentum and the game is brought to a successful conclusion. In much the same way businesses must always be building for the future to have that reservoir of talent to underpin future success!

Finding a successor…

One of the best examples of this I have ever seen in a business was one that managed many varied outsourced contracts for the public and private sector. When a manager was put in charge of a contract, his first task obviously was to ensure that the contract was running smoothly and on track. However, once done the next task of the manager was to find (internally or externally) his successor, then train him up to take over the contract so that he could move on to bigger and better contracts. This built a constantly growing contract management resource that was always moving up the skill curve.

Wood for trees…

Sometimes in business one can get too close to the coal face and therefore not have clear view of what the problem or solution may be. This is the time to get help. Sports teams have multiple coaches concentrating on different areas of the game and if there is a perceived problem in one aspect they will be very quick to bring in extra outsourced help, if only on an ad-hoc basis. In this way businessmen must also learn to be ‘coached’ to achieve the best results.

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David McCrossan

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An experienced financial services professional who is focused on helping businesses be discovered and through this achieving strong growth.


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