Business is in many ways like a sport. Competition is fierce, and the scorecard—whether it’s a box score in a newspaper or quarterly earnings—doesn’t always capture the collective effort that went into the final outcome. That said, the qualities that make for success in sports can also improve your business. Executives who emulate these four leadership skills of successful sports coaches can transform their wealth management practice into a high performing organization.
Skill 1: Create Your Vision
High performance in any endeavor demands a clear picture of the organization’s desired future. It demands vision.
In the course of my career, I have encountered many action-oriented, practical people who have scoffed at the idea of “vision,” believing it to be too abstract and fuzzy. But a cohesive vision, properly conceived, is actionable and gives direction to an organization or firm.
An organizational vision consists of four parts, with the first three driving the fourth.
The purpose is a broadly-defined rationale for the firm’s existence.
The core beliefs and values are the ideals and principles that set forth the operating standards that must be met as the firm works towards its desired future.
The mission is the firm’s overarching long-term goal. The mission must have measurable criteria so that progress towards the overarching goal can be tracked.
Everyone in the firm must accept and support these fundamental beliefs and values, purpose and mission. Collectively, they make up the vivid image—a compelling and positive word picture of the firm’s desired future.
A vision of future goals that is consistently communicated to the individual members of the organization, combined with an understanding of who you are and what you value, should guide the strategic initiatives that drive your business.
Skill 2: Show Clear Leadership
The ultimate success of any organization depends on the inspiration and leadership provided by the people at the top. Leaders must set priorities and performance standards for the organization and its component parts. Expectations have a tendency of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies: low expectations lead to poor performance, while high expectations lead to high levels of performance.
At the University of Tennessee, my expectation, as well as that of the players, was always to win the SEC championship. That belief in ourselves helped us win back-to-back SEC titles and the first ever BCS National Championship Game.