P V Sindhu is undoubtedly one of the best athletes in India today. And there is so much we can learn about determination and perseverance from her. But let’s turn the lens on a largely camera shy but very effective and influential person in Indian sports today – her coach, Gopichand. There is so much that we as leaders can learn from him. Here are my two bits
  1. The ability to spot talent early – Gopichand observed the talent in Sindhu at the early age of 10 when she joined his academy. He coached her knowing well that she had the potential to be an international name in badminton. How many of us as leaders are keen and observant when interacting with our people? Do we identify our best talent, groom them and de slip them to be world-class?
  2. Coach for high performance but be prepared for any outcome – Gopichand famously said that his coaching philosophy has always been about giving one’s best and then accepting the results before working hard for the next goal. How many of us as leaders carry this attitude? Give your best shot, challenge your team but accept the results that come with equanimity and move on to the next goal. This is probably one of the most difficult aspects of leading a team, especially when there is a culture of competition and performance.
  3. Challenge till it works – “I always felt that you need to push till the time you need to push.” – wise words from Gopichand again. The ability to find the sweet spot between extremely stretched goals and easy goals is an art. It requires a deep understanding of your team member’s strengths, aspirations, fears and also a keen eye on opportunities that spring up. How many of us have this ability?
  4. Setting high standards yourself – Gopichand has always set the example by being there and following a stringent schedule himself before pushing his players. Players narrate how he involves himself in training them and improving their technique. “Sometimes I feel bad that inspite being down with cold and fever, he comes to the academy to train Sindhu and other players,” said Sindhu’s father P.V. Ramana. In everyday leadership, do we role model behaviours that we want our team to embrace? Do we set high standards? Do we stretch ourselves before stretching our teams?

The genesis of coaching is in sports and lessons that we pick from sports coaches are easily applied in our everyday leadership behaviours. Do share your thoughts about sports coaching and its application in corporate leadership.


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