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Are Sports coaches better than MBAs?

I feel we all will agree that business is like a team game. It is dynamic. Players keep on changing. The aim is to play good and of course, win. The coach knows the individual players’ strengths and shortcomings. She places them as per her strategy, which changes from match to match depending upon the opponent’s team strengths and weaknesses. The captain of the team respects the strategy.

A business team is similar. The senior management is the coach and the project in charge or the departmental head is the captain. Others are a team. The strategy is decided by the senior management and it varies from project to project depending upon the customer’s priorities. Like different matches in sports, the team faces different projects and is always prepared for any and every eventuality.

So far, so good.

Let us see how the sports coach plans. She plans a strategy that takes collaboration as a tool. She relies on the team players helping each other 99.9% of the time. The players DO help each other in realizing the common goal of the team, i.e., to win the match. Every player is important, every move is important. She does not focus on star players. Man of the match can be from any of the players. No person or place is given undue importance. All are equal. It is not necessary that the highest scorer only will get the man of the match award. But the most important thing that the coach does is – NOT to give personal assignments to any of them. She believes in the team and knows that the players will do what is best for the team seeing the changing dynamic scenario. She trusts the team in following her strategy and in return, the team trust her integrity and skills. There is no KPI assigned. Assessment is on teamwork, not individual achievements.

Let us compare that with a business scenario. Here also we have a team, a strategist and an in charge. Roles and responsibilities are similar. The aim is the same. Grow and win. But here the practice is to assign individual responsibilities and people are assessed on those. No one ever talks about collaboration. The senior management fails to take into consideration the ambition or the jealousy of the individuals. In fact, they fuel it up by giving different marks in their assessment of the individual KPI. In fact, they create competition in the team itself. But, they expect collaboration. Surprise !!!!!

All departments work in silos. The individual or group goals override the goals and even the values and the vision of the company. And why does it happen? There are assessments galore frequently, but a negligible reminder of the team spirit, values and vision of the company, maybe except on their annual day.

Isn’t it obvious that there will be fewer comraderies in an enterprise than in a sports team? Isn’t it the time to make collaboration a tool? But for that, you need a working environment and a culture of teamwork, trust, clarity, support and fun. Are you ready for that? Does culture come to your mind as frequently as sales, operation or quality? I hope it does, as the time is short and the business culture is deteriorating. Please note that it is equally important for the growth of the company. Very soon it may be too late to act.

Get up and start #makingworkplaceshappier. You can also share your views with me with your comments. In case you want to understand it more and work with me, write to me at

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