"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mini-Project 3A: Basketball Coach Analogy

The duty of a basketball coach draws an interesting analogy to the role of a manager and a leader. In many ways they have the same function and if you take them away, the remaining resources will be left disoriented and without a purpose.
A basketball coach is a clear leader. He sets the team on its path and gives it a distinct vision. It is his job to provide his team with the means to accomplish its goals and reach its destiny. Like a good leader, the coach is able to cultivate and generate the proper emotional states that are needed for his players to excel and attain peak performance. By doing this, he makes the most of his physical resources, and maximizes their potential. When the team is in a crucial situation the coach knows just what to say to his players to motivate them and evoke the necessary states of mind that will give them the ability to succeed. A manager also has to be able to motivate his employees when nearing a deadline or face with a very difficult task.
Basketball coaches have a great understanding of their teams and the team’s capabilities. Like in management, coaches study their team’s core competencies and then establish a coaching strategy just as managers have different mindsets. Different strategies include: defensive-minded, maximizing shot attempts, waiting for the best shot and establishing a physical presence. This is comparable to a production manager, deciding on an issue like quantity or quality. Sometimes if the coach’s skills are not compatible with the team’s capabilities then the coach has to be replaced by someone else. That is one form of strategy that a coach takes on, it is more of a physical resource outlook. There are also emotional strategies of building rapport and connection while maintaining the leader position, these vary widely; Zen-like spiritual techniques, tough love attitude, and getting to know your players on a one to one personal basis. This is similar to how a manager chooses to establish an emotional relationship with his employees.
A good manager delegates, knows when to step in and get involved, as well as when to take a backseat and trust their workers to come through. Likewise, a basketball coach has the same features throughout the game. He has to know when to call a timeout if the game seems like it is getting out of control, on the other hand if he doesn’t show enough faith in his players to get things together on their own this will cause players to resent the coach. The stronger and more developed the relationship is between the coach and players or manager and employees, the better their understanding of whether or not to take action will be. The coach also creates and assigns plays, telling the players just what roles they have and what they need to do. In business, this can be compared to a designed template, or formatted task that a manager needs his employees to complete. The more effort that is put into designing these templates by the manager the better the result will be.
Managers, like coaches have the important task of maintaining employee satisfaction. A manager may do this by giving their deserving employees a promotion, praise, additional benefits, and increased freedom. Similarly a coach must discipline and reward his players. Players will seek reward from their coach by putting in extra time in the gym and giving an increased effort during practice and games. A good coach will notice this improved determination and reward it with an increase in playing time during games, public praise of those players and giving them the opportunity to make clutch plays in the game. On the other hand the coach will do the opposite if the player is performing poorly with low motivation, and in extreme cases, the coach will make the decision to cut a player from the team. As you can see the role of a manager and a basketball coach is very similar. Characteristics of each can be carried over and applied to the other field, and in many ways a good manager would be very well equipped to be a basketball coach.

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