The Differences Between Sports and Corporate Leadership

Many think there are lots of differences between sport and corporate life, but it's not always that simple

Photo by Javier Reyes on Unsplash

There’s is no difference between successful leadership in the sporting world and successful leadership in the corporate world.

Many experts will tell you there is but they’re wrong.

Because it depends on what you define as success in the first place.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, success is:

“The achieving of the results wanted or hoped for”


“Something that achieves positive results.”

However, most people involved as leaders of a professional sporting environment and the corporate setting will say that ‘results’ inevitably mean greater income and sustainable growth for their company.

Sure, on the surface, sporting organizations are not all about money and business growth but that’s what’s behind it all in the long term.

In America, football, baseball, and basketball fans follow their team because they love them.

This is usually their local team and where you`re from. But if you`re a player you`ve got an agent and you go where you’re contracted to go. That’s been bred into young professionals from the day of the draft even after a player has committed to a certain color and pictured supporting a certain team.

Trades are done and these are all decided by business decisions.

Teams are referred to as ‘organizations’ by many and agents swarm about trying to get the greatest deal so that money can be made on the back of a player’s move. Everyone has a shelf life and their price depends on their value.

In English football, there are more divisions and a greater amount of teams and supporters feel deeply about their local club as it represents their football identity, but again it’s all a business in the entertainment industry.

Photo by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

Millions of pounds are made from shirt sales and buying a player from a big country that has a growing fan base boosts the marketability of the club’s brand in the longer term.

But the leadership that concentrates on making a fast book whether it be in the sporting or corporate environment is different than leading successfully with a long-term aim for cash flow in place.

If sporting teams concentrate on winning championships immediately the leader will buy players that are a high expense and the pressure of performance will be substantial. Existing players in the team will feel encouraged and eager to win too and that will boost performance. But it does not guarantee victory as other teams have similar visions as well.

When the season ends and teams finish without a trophy often players move on or decrease their level of performance.

Whereas leaders that try to build a team with a longer-term objective of winning in mind may not succeed immediately but will learn and develop over time to make a sustained improvement, income, and eventual victory at a lower cost of investment.

The same is true in the corporate world too.

And whether you’re leading sporting teams or corporate ones it’s all about how you treat people.

Many leaders such as coaches and managers arrive in clubs and prepare players to play every game and try to motivate them to win. Younger players especially love this type of attitude because their main concern is to play regularly and compete at the highest level.

But after a while form or injury can interrupt their flow.

And some sporting managers push players through pain simply because they are worried about immediate victories to save their jobs and deliver to their employees in the short term.

In corporate life, many managers or bosses will be hung up on the end of quarter results and see that as a bottom line. When better sales and turnover is achieved there can be a reward for employees as a result. But with this short term success comes a greater want to overcome competitors who are growing at a similar or higher rate.

And as a result, employees can lose focus, become de-motivated and even suffer from mental health issues if their input is not respected or rewarded with a greater financial stimulus or a promotion that gives a greater salary.

If it’s all about financial results you may be the best leader in the short term but you may fall short of cash flow over time.

Because, inevitably, people’s energy equals the money that flows into your sporting organizations or corporations’ pockets.

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

For its people that reach into their pockets in the first place. And they will dictate the sustainability of a project by how they behave over time.

Sure you may become rich in the short term but in giving value for money over the longer term you’ll achieve better results when the majority know they are emotionally invested in their team or corporation because it aligns with their identity of life.

And what greater success can a leader have than to show others what the greatest thing is for them throughout their lifetime?




Forbes, INC. & Entrepreneur Magazines, CBS, & NBC Featured, Dr. Conor Is The World’s Leading High-Performance Neuro Socio-Psychologist & Co-Authored 4 Books

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Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

Forbes, INC. & Entrepreneur Magazines, CBS, & NBC Featured, Dr. Conor Is The World’s Leading High-Performance Neuro Socio-Psychologist & Co-Authored 4 Books

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