Is there anyone out there who hasn’t been hooked on events in Rio over the summer. The Olympics were great, the Paralympics, arguably better.
Gold! Gold! Gold! We’ve done so well it seems to have repaired some of the gloom and doom of the past few months. Breaking news from the BBC has actually been something to be happy and get excited about.
For me, the best part of seeing sports people do well in the games is that euphoric feeling afterwards when they engage with their coach. I find the bond: built on sweat, blood, tears, rows, hugs and endless hours training in the rain or fundraising for the games, almost magical. It’s a bond that’s hard to replicate but I truly think that businesses should at least try to adopt some of what a great coach offers.
They are great communicators. They transmit a myriad of ideas, instructions and suggestions in a way their athlete can understand and relate to. How? Because they know their athletes; every last tiny detail. They know what motivates them, what gets them angry, what pushes them to action and, frankly, what bores them silly. Wouldn’t it be crazy if all businesses knew their customers or employees in that way.
They listen: They understand that communication is a two-way street and hear what their athlete has to say; understanding challenges and fears and offering solutions and support. Often they are a coach to a team of diverse sports people; each with their own worries and setbacks. They need to support and communicate with each differently and effectively.
They don’t assume that they know their athletes; they get to know them. They also appreciate that people change so keep listening as part of their process, not just once yearly in a focus group.
They have a flexible and agile mindset. They are continually learning and developing. They understand the need to adapt. They know that what’s hugely successful one year may not work the next.
Science, technology and research is continually changing and suggesting new approaches. A good coach is considered enough to see which are fads and which are a chance to advance and progress. They see change as opportunity, not as a threat.
Being a coach is often a thankless task. It’s certainly one that predominantly involves hovering in the shadow of the athlete, yet often working nearly as many hours and certainly being as psychologically committed to the end goal.
Despite the fact that they often push their athletes to the darkest, most gruelling of places to get them where they need to be, they develop life-long bonds based on their commitment.
If as a business, you could emulate just 10% of the bond between coach and athlete, you could lap everyone else on the track, you could handspring, you could vault, you could score that try, you could “ippon seoi nage”, you could dodge that punch. In short, you’d deserve a blooming medal.