Practice Makes Perfect- Strengthening a Leader’s ‘Sports Brain’
Leaders and business professionals in the Life Sciences industry are confronted with internal and external circumstances that put their leadership skills to the test. They are faced with the tasks of changing market dynamics, delivering profitability, demanding customer expectations and managing complex internal processes along with other challenges that come with directing people and teams. Just like a sports coach on the play field, a business leader must be equipped with the qualities necessary to contest the complexities and challenges present in the workplace. Improving one’s insight to adapt these abilities and understanding the mechanics of a ‘sports brain’, leads to a more effective and successful approach to leadership within the workplace. Furthermore, training managers to be better coaches can be the necessary lever to boost organisational transformations.
Top sports coaches know how to connect with their team and have superb motivational and leadership and coaching skills to inspire their players to perform at their best and achieve the highest performance. The role of any coach is to help others work with their strengths and improve their abilities to reach their maximum potential. Working with their ‘sports brain’ implies that leaders inspire their team, instill positivity and build confidence.
Business leaders must be able to handle high-pressure situations, for example; managing their own emotions during difficult scenarios, coaching team members with very different personalities, especially those with subcultures of millennials, Gen Z and the older generations.
“Just like top coaches in sports, business leaders need to be able to assess their own leadership style and the opportunities and risks associated with this style. Although it would be easy to recognise one’s strengths, ignoring or not acknowledging one’s weaknesses as a leader proves to be counterproductive. So, developing self-confidence, stepping out of one’s comfort zone or learning how to manage distractions are examples of the initial steps taken when working with a ‘sports brain‘”.
From a scientific standpoint, it is almost necessary for managers to reinforce their brain to perform or cope with the dynamic flows within the work environment. According to Associate Dean of Executive Education at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Peter Hirst, brain-based insights can have a critical effect on one’s leadership skills and mindset. It was concluded that the biological processes can influence and govern one’s actions, therefore, reshaping and strengthening the brain. Furthermore, a 2018 study by a group of San Francisco researchers experimented on how neurons can affect procedural learning. It has also confirmed how the neuron activity of the brain is associated with the process of decision-making. In this regard, managers can therefore develop their mental skills to define inspiring goals.
To conclude, the psychological mindset of top coaches and that of business leaders share a commonality, where both use similar tactics to counteract the challenges faced when proving to be strong leaders. Contemporary times reflect the need for managers to comply coach-like skills or to develop their ‘sports brain’ where the rewards will be well worth the effort.
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- Embodied leadership: Is neuroscience the next frontier in management? MITedu
- New Study Explains How Your Brain Helps You Learn New Skills, Feb 2018, Gladstone
- Why Practice Actually Makes Perfect: How to Rewire Your Brain for Better Performance. October 2014. Buffer
- The Best Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Ask for Help, January 2019, HBR.