Conor Lynch, Assistant Football Coach at Oregon’s Willamette University, spoke at our most recent Future-Proof Seminar on November 19, 2020. Conor shared some insights into the importance of leadership in uncertain times with analogies between sports and business leadership. Below, you will find Conor’s five key points for being an effective leader:
Be the most informed person in the room. COVID has brought with it new rules and regulations. It’s essential to stay up to date on the latest news and policies that could impact your business. Clearly summarize the key points that affect you and your business and present this information to your staff to keep everyone up to speed.
Be ready to adapt. Football requires players to adapt to whatever Mother Nature does on game day. If it’s pouring rain, players have to execute the plays they can control, such as avoiding long passes, holding on to the football, and maybe running with it instead.
Adaptability is no different in business. None of us could have predicted the lengthy COVID pandemic, but the pandemic has required that we adapt to a year of unforeseeable hardships. Just like players on the field, if you take care of what you CAN control, you’ll be better prepared to deal with the unpredictable. Structure your business in advance so that you’re able to buy, produce, or sell product quickly. You do not want to lose out on profits by being unable to adapt to changes in the marketplace. Being able to adapt to a changing marketplace also requires keeping a business’s marketing capabilities up to date. Make sure the customers or clients in your field of business can easily reach you. Ensure your platforms are mobile friendly and easy to use. Potential clients or customers need to find what they want quickly and effortlessly.
When you come across variables you can’t control, you always have to respond. Responding involves taking a step back from the situation, analyzing the situation, and then taking the appropriate action to match the outcome that you want to achieve. If your response doesn’t bring about the outcome you want, re-organize and adjust your response accordingly, because the event is not always a fixed scenario. COVID-19 is a great example.
Have a clear vision and direction for your business. Part of ensuring the adaptability and marketability of your business involves having a clear vision and direction for your business. As part of the vision for your business, you have to determine what your goals will look like to start moving in a desired direction. First you have a vision, then you decide on a direction and a timeline for your direction toward your goals.
Next, you make your vision and desired direction clear to your employees. This is where the role of communicator becomes huge for leaders. As a football coach, I routinely work with five different quarterbacks. One quarterback may not be the same type of learner as the next, so I have to be able to explain my visions and directions in multiple different ways to get my point across. It’s the same with your employees. Not everybody learns the same way, so you need to be adaptable when explaining your vision and direction in order to get your point across.
Promote “we” over “I.” We tell the players in our program, “There’s no “I” in team.” There’s always the predictable wisecrack that says, “Well, there’s an “I” in win.” My response is that the letter “I” also appears several times in the word “individual.” We want people who are keen on team success, not individual success. If you want to be an individual, go play an individual sport, like golf, but we don’t recruit that type of player in football. The same concept applies to a business. A great team is always unselfish.
When you lead your business with a team-oriented approach, it promotes a sense of pride and ownership in everyone’s work, because you are delegating different tasks to each member of the team. By delegating tasks, you’re also empowering your staff to be themselves, which promotes simplicity and positivity within your culture. Delegation builds trust between employees and managers, and amongst the employees themselves. Delegation also promotes a sense of unselfishness. At the end of the day, the business and the team must always come first, and if you can instill this value of selflessness in your staff and employees through team-oriented delegation, you set yourself up to have a successful business, even when times get hard. That’s how great teams are made.
- Stay positive. One of the players I played with in college now coaches for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a pro basketball team. Here’s what he tells his players: “2020 was the best year of your life. You faced challenge after challenge. You adapted, and you overcame. 2020 has forced you to grow exponentially – don’t take that for granted. In spite of the negativity we saw last year, there was also a huge amount of positive change taking place. Everybody is learning and getting better, and we should all take pride in that.” These words apply equally to all of us. We are all learning and getting better, and at the end of the day, that’s all we can do.
We’re here to help your business adapt and thrive in the face of uncertainty
At Insight Business Transitions, we work with business leaders to help them transition their vision and direction to sustain success and growth in the months and years ahead.
Book a complimentary consultation with us to explore practical solutions that will work for your specific business transition situation.