Team leadership in business and sport

All the excitement of the World Cup means there’s a lot of talk at the moment about sports teams, both winners and losers. Even if you don’t follow the World Cup, you probably follow some sort of sport, and sporting teams offer some useful insights for workplace teams. So let’s have a look at a couple of useful team and leadership lessons that can be drawn from the world of peak performance and successful sports.

Types of Competition:

One of the key aspects of all sports is competition. Yet there are a range of types of competition that apply in different sports, and different individuals prefer different sports that reflect these various types of competition.

In sports competition may either be against yourself, another individual or another team. In business we are often competing against other businesses for a client or customer or at other times we are competing against ourselves to improve our own (individual, work group or corporate) performance. So it is important to remember that some individuals on your workplace team may be more motivated by a different style of competition.


In both business and on the sports field discipline plays a key part in success. A long-term commitment to developing all the skills that are required to succeed is the foundation of both sporting and business success. Individuals and teams who have the commitment to see through a task will enjoy more success than others.

Sticking to your plan might sometimes seem dull and boring, but it will set you apart from all your competitors in both business and sport.


As in many sports, in the workplace successful teams only develop when team members know how to work with others and are willing to trust one another.

As a team leader in the workplace it is important that you accept the sorts of responsibilities that the head coach would have in a winning team. You need to check to be sure that all members of your team fit into the team, respect one another, work together well and support each other.

Any signs of poor teamwork must be addressed immediately.

Tomorrow I’ll share with you three more team leadership lessons we can apply in the workplace from the world of sport…

Kerrie Mullins-Gunst specializes in helping leaders and managers develop all the skills they need to mentor manage and lead. Check out this simple yet powerful tool to improve employee performance and boost workplace motivation:

Leaders under stress

Last week I was fortunate enough to have a few days break after a conference on Australia’s beautiful Gold Coast. We caught up with family and friends we hadn’t seen for some time and I’m returning to work today feeling very relaxed.

Then I looked at my diary and I realised that another month is almost gone. I have so many things to do before the end of the month and my stress levels start to rise just a little, before I even have to handle anything unexpected, difficult or challenging…

It got me thinking. Stress is such a part of any leadership or management role it’s easy to forget what a stress free life can be like. But the question is, is that a bad thing?

There’s no doubt that a bit of stress helps us to function at a higher, or more intense level and therefore get more done than usual. I certainly got more done the day before I left for my conference and short break than I would have, if I had not been under the pressure of a deadline.

Planes just don’t wait for us to finish one more thing, do they?

And there probably wouldn’t be any need for the management or leadership role in organisations, if there weren’t the sort of problems and challenges that can lead to stress.

But there’s also no doubt that higher and higher stress levels can be unhealthy, unsustainable and unproductive – and that’s what too many leaders and managers struggle with, every day at work.

Being told day in and day out to do more and more with less and less is undoubtedly stressful.

If that’s your reality, I know it won’t help to tell you to “relax and take a holiday”. Much as you might want to and know you really should, I know it’s not always possible – especially when you are most stressed.

Yet you and I both know that you owe it to the people on your team to know how to manage your stress levels so you are productive rather than stressed out of control. If you allow your stress to get out of control you’ll begin to miss deadlines, forget critical things and struggle to cope with anything unexpected. In fact your productivity will drop.

So what can you do? Well, there is plenty you can do to effectively manage your stress levels and help your team members to do the same. Here are three quick tips to help:

* First, make sure you are quite clear on whether and why tasks really need to be done. As we are asked to do new things, it is important to constantly take the time to check whether the old tasks we are used to doing really still need to be done. Sometimes we cling to old tasks (maybe we are confident doing them or just enjoy doing them) even though they are no longer really required. If a task no longer needs to be done, or it can be done annually instead of monthly for example, that can free up significant amounts of time and reduce stress on everyone.

* Second, even if you can’t take a whole week’s break, you can take a brief break to do something you enjoy. Walk around the block to clear your head. Take 20 minutes to listen to some music you enjoy. Enrol in a weekly exercise or stretch class. Take up painting or gardening. Borrow a neighbor’s dog and take it for a walk. In other words, doing something different for a short time can work magic in reducing your stress levels.

* Third, make sure you really understand what stress is, how the different types of stress impact on performance and how to manage it yourself and for your people. Keep yourself motivated and don’t make doing tasks more stressful by procrastinating. These resources will help you to manage your stress and be more productive: Less Stress and Better Productivity

Leaders who understand and work well with stress make better leaders. That link for some really helpful resources is:
Check them out now.

Leaders with Attitude and 13 Things

One of the secrets to becoming a leader who motivates others to follow you, is your attitude. As a leader, your attitude is catching. And no matter what else happens to us, we are always responsible for our own attitude.

Cultivate the right attitude and motivating others to follow your lead becomes easier and easier.

While there are a number of dimensions to what makes the ‘right’ attitude for a leader, one of them is undoubtedly to appreciate what people do for you and what you already have.

I have made a simple video about things I’m thankful for to help prompt you to think about your attitude and how your attitude can help you to motivate the people on your team.

The right attitude is one of the most motivating and powerful things you can cultivate.

Add a comment below to share the things you are thankful for.

The Ultimate Team and Leadership Challenge

What does this video tell you about teams and leadership and rising to the challenge?

As I watch it I see so many lessons about what we do – and don’t do – in the workplace when we are leading a team to achieve great results like this…

Could you motivate your team to do anything this complex – in one take? What would it take?

Watch this amazing video and share your thoughts and comments below. I’ll hunt out some prizes for the best contributions next week.

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PS. I have now sent a small gift to everyone who commented, to say thanks for your thoughts. (27 April)

Group Dynamics – When Group Conflict Creates Problems

This is a really short message! But if you ever have problems with conflict in your team meetings or other aspects of group dynamics, you will want to read it carefully.

You probably know I do a lot of facilitation of strategic planning and conference or group meetings, which may be why I am often asked about group dynamics and facilitation skills by some of the executives and team leaders I coach.

Now I know it is not always possible to bring in an external facilitator (although I hope you will call me on 03-9859 3924 whenever you need one) so as a leader, it is important for you to develop the skills required to manage group dynamics and handle group conflict effectively.

Anyway, I have just finished writing an article on three critical aspects of group dynamics a meeting facilitator must manage and I thought I would share it with you.

You can read about it here: Group Dynamics

Have a read and let me know what you think.

There are a lot of different things to balance when you are facilitating an important meeting, including group conflict, so I hope it helps you to manage all aspects of group dynamics better.

That link again:

Kind regards


PS Watch out for some of the great things we’ve got planned for this year. I’ll share the first one with you soon.