What Do Highly Successful Championship Coaches & Top Leaders Have In Common?

I want to share with you three things some of the most successful coaches in the world have in common. This particular research was done by Cliff Mallett at the University of Queensland: I found it interesting because it directly relates to cognitive development in many ways (continuing to learn, mindfulness type of self-reflection and the importance of relationship building).


  1. Read Frequently: Even reading this article indicates to some extent that you have a thirst for knowledge and are actively pursuing educating yourself.   Top coaches have a never ending pursuit of knowledge in the form of videos, webinars, watching games, reading, viewing training sessions and much more. The best coaches are nervous they will not stay on top, so they will do anything to find out what that next thing is which can give them that extra 5% advantage. Top coaches are visionaries who always have the future in mind. They have a way of taking complexity and breaking it down for their staff and players to understand and execute on. I personally seek new information on a daily basis, I feel stagnant if I have not continued my research on how to become a better coach.
  2. Be Willing To Work On Yourself: Yes, be willing to evolve and change. This can be done in a number of ways from mindfulness training, professional therapy or reading self-improvement books with reflection. Most of the best coaches had undergone a shift in leadership style over their career. They had been willing to change and went from an “I’m the leader and you follow me approach”, to a style that focused empathy and caring. The players really believed the coach cared about them as people and had their best interest at heart. These coaches often had parents that worked in a “helping type of profession”, scored highly on emotion intelligence tests and where married and not divorced. These coaches truly know themselves and how to demonstrate their core values to their players.  Its never easy to work on yourself in an honest way but it is critical to do so.  I took a course in group dynamics in college and the most important thing the teacher conveyed to me was, if you are not doing work on yourself, you are not progressing.
  3. Get To Know Your Athletes Better: A true team is built on relationships. It is vital these relationships are between the coach and players and not just players and players. Make relationship building with your players a major priority. The re-occurring theme among coaches when asked what could you have done better is “I wish I spent more time building relationships with the players”.


Championship coaches also have much in common with the world’s top leaders in business and government.   Here are a few important characteristics that most of these leaders share.


  1. A) Feeling & Logic: Leaders who excel at strategy can feel the strategy all the way through the organization. They don’t rely purely on logic alone to make their decisions. Lets take a look at an example of how a smart leader would make a decision. If the task is to improve the companies profit margins, a smart leader would not do so by simply cutting jobs, even if that seems to be the logical decision. The smart leader would take the time to think through what the consequences of cutting jobs would be on quality control, employee moral, public relations and long- term profitability and growth. They would have the ability put themselves in the “shoes” of the employee, in almost a position of empathy so they could feel what the employee was feeling. Neuroimaging shows us that social and analytical thinking uses two different areas of the brain. Social thinking plays a much bigger role then most people thought when it comes to being a great leader.
  2. B) Praise: The best leaders give a lot of praise and create strong emotional bonds with their employees. They want there employees to have a sense of purpose at work and to really feel they are an important part of something that has a real purpose. The old way of thinking is that the boss had to be ultra tough, stern and often negative to get people to do what their work. The scientific data overwhelming proves this thought process wrong. You can be an outstanding leader through praise and encouragement.
  3. C) Inspiration: Top leaders have the ability to get across a bigger picture or vision that makes it easier for employees to buy into the strategy. They can also easily verbalize the picture or vision to the employees, making it buy-in easier.
  4. D) Focus: The reality is the more you focus on something the more it becomes your reality; the more it is hardwired into your brain.