How to coach, ac­cord­ing to five great sports coaches

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - BY SARAH GREEN

Busi­ness is not a sport. But great coach­ing is just as im­por­tant to suc­cess in the of­fice as on the field. Over the years, HBR has in­ter­viewed some of the world’s top ath­letic coaches. We mined our ar­chives for a few of their best in­sights that ap­ply to em­ploy­ees and play­ers alike.

Un­der manager Joe Gi­rardi, the New York Yan­kees base­ball team won their 27th World Se­ries cham­pi­onship ti­tle. Gi­rardi has won more than 500 games as a manager. He told us how he coaches play­ers on when to lis­ten to their guts and aban­don the plan: “If you think too much, you fail be­cause the game hap­pens too quickly. The key is prepa­ra­tion. The data has to be­come in­stinc­tual.

“You have to lead by ex­am­ple. You ask your play­ers to be pre­pared men­tally and phys­i­cally, so you have to be pre­pared. Be­yond that, you’ve got to adapt to the type of play­ers you have. If you’ve got a home-run-hit­ting team, you can’t make them all base steal­ers, and vice versa.”

Adapt­ing to your play­ers was also a theme for Bela Karolyi, the gym­nas­tics coach whose gym­nasts have earned, among other honours, nine Olympic gold medals. “You have to take them in­di­vid­u­ally,” he told us. “Find out what part of their mind is click­ing, what part of their char­ac­ter is re­spond­ing to you, and what’s the one thing you have to avoid.”

Sir Alex Fer­gu­son, the coach of the Manch­ester United foot­ball team, had some con­sid­ered thoughts on crit­i­cism: “Few peo­ple get bet­ter with crit­i­cism; most re­spond to en­cour­age­ment in­stead. So I tried to give en­cour­age­ment when

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