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Play It By The Classic Rules

The author has systematically covered all aspects of success, failure, goals and goal setting and the use of psychology to build his case well in the application of these sporting phenomena for business success

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Sarah Green Carmichael, an executive editor at Harvard Business, in her article titled ‘How to Coach, According to 5 Great Sports Coaches’ writes about the power of observing by quoting legendary coach Sir Alex Ferguson. “What you can pick up by watching is incredibly valuable… Seeing a change in a player’s habits or a sudden dip in his enthusiasm allowed me to go further with him: Is it family problems? Is he struggling financially? Is he tired? What kind of mood is he in? Sometimes I could even tell that a player was injured when he thought he was fine. I don’t think many people fully understand the value of observing. I came to see observation as a critical part of my management skills. The ability to see things is key — or, more specifically, the ability to see things you don’t expect to see,” Carmichael quotes Ferguson. Sports coaching is a high pressure job, akin to a leadership role in any organisation.

Murray Eldridge, a business consultant, tries to combine best practices in coaching and running an organisation in his book Achieving High Performance: How to Apply Winning Principles of Sports Coaching in Your Organization. Eldridge guides the corporate business leader to achieve the maximum from its average performers by applying techniques and practices used by sports coaches. Having worked in shipping, oil and gas, water and telecom industries along with being a qualified practising rowing coach the author has detailed knowledge of both the fields.

There is no doubt that competitive environment pervades all sectors and Elridge highlights the difference in the competitive environments of professional sports and the corporate world. He takes you through the differences and similarities in sports coaching and effective leadership. For instance, Part 1 of the book deals with the kinds of pressure a successful coach faces vis a vis the safety net that surrounds the corporate leader. The importance of rigours of science, performance curve and mental skills applied in the sports arena are deliberated and examined in detail. This part also successfully establishes how concepts of sports coaching will be effective in organisations.

 Part 2 of the book deals with applying the concepts and models from the sports into business environments. The book would benefit business leaders to extract the maximum efficiency from their workforce by applying the concepts and practices of sports coaches. And this is where the book gets interesting. Here Elridge provides in-depth information on models used by sports coaches, attributes and performance indicators of the most successful athletes and how it can be absorbed into the corporate organisations to attain maximum benefit.

Being a rowing sports coach gives the author a  perspective. It is interesting to note how despite companies going bust, the leaders at the helm have been amply rewarded. Several cases have been mentioned in this context.

In contrast, the sports coach is constantly under the acid test of competition. The chapter ‘Success and Failure’ significantly highlights this difference.

The chapter dealing with Talent Selection addresses attributes for all level of employee selection right from junior level recruitment to leadership level recruitment. The author suitably establishes how the performance appraisal can be an effective tool to manage high performance achievement.

Overall, the author has systematically covered all aspects of success, failure, goals and goal setting and the use of psychology to build his case well in the application of these sporting phenomena for business success.

The book can be a helpful guide to any organisation looking to reform in an effort to achieve long-term success. It provides easy to understand models, concepts and skill sets which can be picked up by any organisation willing to devote time and effort to achieve high performance. Since the book achieves its goal in providing models and examples from various sports principles for success in corporate organisations, it could be easily used as a guide by any corporate employee looking to develop the performance level of the staff below.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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book review books Magazine 12 May 2018

Hema Tiwari Chaturvedi

The author is a freelance writer

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