What sports teams can teach businesses

Even if you have never thrown a baseball, kicked a field goal or shot a hockey puck, sports act as a valuable metaphor for the business world. What better than the world of athletes to describe the camaraderie, selflessness and single-mindedness of teamwork?

Below are three great lessons business professionals can learn from some of the most successful teams in the sports world.

Master the fundamentals

The best sports teams know that the basics are the foundation upon which they stand. Before you can score the winning touchdown, you need to know how to tie your cleats. Literally.

As any athlete will tell you, there are specific methods for dressing in order to get the most of your equipment and to perform your best. Running a mile with wrinkled socks that give you blisters only breaks your focus, slows you down and potentially leads to injury.

This lesson applies to the business world: The most successful companies are those who put in the time and energy to master the rudiments of their instrument better than their competitors.

It is easy to get excited about the “next steps” or the “bigger picture” in your business — you have big ideas and lofty goals. While they may seem monotonous or trivial, a solid knowledge of the fundamentals acts as your bridge to accomplishing those goals.

Getting the best out of your best

Top NFL, NHL and MLB teams do two significant things when it comes to their players: First, they recruit some of the best in the league, and then second, they get the best out of the players they have by putting them in the right position.

Our sports and work teams cannot all be made of Peyton Mannings or Donald Trumps, but we can strategically utilize individuals by understanding their personal strengths and weaknesses and working with that information.

Assess the talent at your organization: Would some people be a better fit in different roles? Perhaps a B player employee in customer service would shine in your marketing department.

Teamwork is not always about surrounding yourself with the best; sometimes it is about bringing the best out of the teammates or colleagues you have.

Communication is key

Baseball catchers have small, subtle signals they use to suggest to pitchers what pitch should come next. In football, the quarterback relays the coach’s play decision to his teammates during a huddle.

Off the field, coaches and teammates mince few words when evaluating each member’s performance, but they are also quick to offer praise when a game is well-played.

Name a sport, and the highest-ranking teams in it have a solid foundation of clear, precise and open communication. In order for our business teams to work together effectively, communication must reign supreme.

Embrace a top down and bottom up approach so that every member of your team feels appreciated and listened to. You will see higher employee satisfaction, and you may just be surprised where some of your best ideas and insights come from.