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  • Writer's pictureGail Montgomery

Hey Coach! You can't succeed with ONE play!

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Recently I wrote a LinkedIn post about how sports teams are naturally more agile than business teams because of their ability to PRACTICE. My business partner and I often feel like we're in a boat all alone in a blue ocean, yelling:

"One "Effective Communication" class ain't gonna fix it!"

I mean, c'mon. You can't expect to send your leaders, teams, new hires, etc. to a one off session and expect they will be great leaders, teams, and employees IMMEDIATELY. It just doesn't work that way. Our BRAINS don't work that way.

More simply, we need PRACTICE. The kind of practice that sports teams have .

Huddle up.

I am not a HUGE sports fan. What I am, though, is a raging fanatic about practice. And the things that sports teams DO to get better.

~They practice a lot

~They try new things, fix things, and solve things

~They have members come and members go ALL. THE. TIME.

~They workout together AND independently

~They invest in equipment

~They PLAY

~They love what they do (mostly)

~They watch film of themselves - mostly FAILING

There is NO success without FAILURE.


Seriously. You know this. Business is iterative. Change is inevitable. And, just when you think you have the greatest product, another company is waiting in the wings to snatch your business.

So what do you DO?

Well, the first thing you need to do if you are and executive, is BUDGET for development. Stop using the excuse that you need to see an ROI, or that soft skills don't translate to hard results. They ABSOLUTELY do. There's so much data out there it would make your head spin. You may have even seen it. Someone posts it, and you do one of three things:

  1. Roll your eyes and get annoyed. You think, "This is crap. This is mushy. We need our bottom line to shine and can only do that through (insert income provider here)."

  2. Sigh and scroll past once you see the headline. You think, "Yeah, yeah. I keep SEEING this stuff about emotional intelligence, high-performing teams, and I'll never be able to sell (insert decision maker's name here) on it."

  3. Double click on that article! Yes! You read, and think "I know this is true. And, we've DONE that before. We brought in (insert consulting company name here) and it didn't work."

Which one are YOU?

Maybe you have already summoned the genie out of the bottle, captured the snitch, or developed the perfect internal solution. Maybe you have all of your employees performing at a level 10. Maybe your surveys come back with glowing reviews of management, process, on-boarding, culture and engagement.

If so, that's fantastic! Take your arm and pat yourself on the back! Raise your arms and do the boxer's "I'm the winner" stance! Like this guy.

Yeah, I'm a rock star.

I think it's fair to say that if you have engaged in the above suggested activity, you are in the minority and there is room for improvement.

So, back to sports. If you are a coach, I mean a LEADER, then you have an obligation to create a space for your teams to thrive. You've seen the posts and articles and heard the panels and Ted talks about being a leader who inspires, collaborates, develops, and cultivates their people. So DO it.

Engage an outside objective company to help you align with the mission, vision and values of your organization. Or, RE-engage a great outside team that worked with you in the past and helped move the needle. Bring them in as a "partner". Invest in a cadence of sessions to give teams the opportunity to practice and be held accountable. And especially to LAUGH.

And, see how I said OUTSIDE? You need a group who has no dog in the fight and no investment in the outcome EXCEPT your success. Because if an outside partner helps you and your teams thrive, that helps them show ROI to other potential partners.

To put it simply,

"The only place that SUCCESS comes before WORK is in the dictionary.” – Vince Lombardi.

Yeah, that's about right.

Author: Gail Montgomery, CEO, ExperienceYes

ExperienceYes focuses on corporate innovation, culture and leadership development by leveraging the neuroscience behind improvisation and creativity.Soft Skills. Hard Results.

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