The Lessons for Life and Business Learned from Sports

The Lessons for Life and Business Learned from Sports

by: Dennis Sherrin

I love watching college football. The recent College Football Championship game between Alabama and Georgia, which was settled in overtime with a pass from a freshman quarterback to a freshman wide receiver, provided an unexpected and stirring display of the dedication to teamwork. Understanding the importance of team over self is something many people in business strive to continually improve. How has the Alabama football program achieved consistent success? By doing the opposite. By being dedicated to a process and focusing on each individual, they have created a successful team.

The Process

Nick Saban has spent 44 years developing “the process” he uses to coach National Champion caliber teams. It is a complex vision that combines the strategy to win college football games with developing each individual player to be successful in life. (You can learn more about it in this book 4th and Goal Every Day: Alabama’s Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.) Focusing on the development of individuals allows the Alabama football program to attract amazingly talented players who are seeking an opportunity to better themselves.

Coach Saban and his staff stress self-accountability, supporting your teammates, teaching one another, and a commitment to high standards. Players are prepared to handle the challenges of a game by being tested and stressed every day on the practice field and in film rooms. Then, choosing who contributes during a game is simple: those who perform the best in practice will perform on the field, regardless of how long they have been a member of the team.

The Results of The Process

At the Championship game, the “process” was on full display. Saban made the monumental choice to switch quarterbacks half way through the game. The starting quarterback, who had a winning record of 26-2, was replaced with a freshman who had never started a game. Although to spectators, it seemed like a risky decision, Saban’s focus on knowing his players and the type of individual they are, allowed him to make a choice that resulted in a championship.

More impressive than a coach making an unexpected game-time choice, was the reaction of the players. The benched quarterback consistently displayed maturity and leadership far beyond the expectation for someone in his situation. During the second half of the game, he cheered and supported his replacement from the sidelines, taking every moment to offer encouragement to all his team members. This player showed us what type of individual Coach Saban is developing. His selfless attitude is a characteristic of a true leader who believed in the ability of his team.

At the end of the game, there were five freshmen on the field. In the biggest game of the season, wouldn’t you prefer your veterans who had more practice and years of experience to be the ones making the plays? If you have created a group of goal-oriented individuals who believe in the leader’s process, the answer is simple. Every player was prepared to contribute on the field if, and when, called upon. And if not called upon? Those on the sideline contributed as supporters. Every team member had to believe in the team, no matter if they were on the field or sideline.

Coach Saban has created a focused organization whose vision of success is defined as becoming champions. Those championships are won on the football field and off the field in life. Every member of the organization is expected to be committed, engaged and accountable. Nick Saban’s process is only as successful as the people in the organization make it.

Are You Ready?

Just like great football coaches, at hb&k we believe in creating processes to make work more efficient and in personnel development programs to help staff be more successful at work, at home and in our communities. We understand success is related to people. Internally, we work to develop all personnel, regardless of years of service, to be prepared to take on significant challenges when called upon and when it matters most.

hb&k advisers have the wisdom to help improve your business processes and make your team become even more powerful. Our consultants and trainers have expertise in team building, strategic planning, business processes and leadership. Give us a call, today, to learn more.