Leadership Skills Found in Business AND IN Basketball

By John Anderson

Parents often sign their children up for basketball programs only to learn the team is in need of a coach. Stepping into a head coaching position for youth basketball can be a major challenge.

In order to be successful, you will need to have good leadership skills. Fortunately, many leadership qualities found in the boardroom can be transferred to the hardwood.

The following will explain how skills men and women use every day in the workplace can also be used while coaching.


Some coaches believe there isn’t any harm in faking the age of the boys and girls just so they have a competitive edge. A youth coach who is willing to cheat to win is not leading by example.

Demonstrating truthfulness as coach is a significant part of leadership. Showing integrity to your team helps your young players learn the value of ethics and honesty.


New coaches can empower the more skilled players to work with their teammates who are lacking specific skills. For example, a very skilled shooter can help teach other players the shooting drills that helped her learn to shoot.

By delegating, the head coach will have the opportunity to work with a wider range of players. Allocation of authority also extends to other coaches on your staff. One sign of great leaders is their willingness to endorse others on their staff. Empowering others establishes trust and helps build strong character for assistant coaches and players.


Another important skill in business, which plays a significant role in coaching, is the ability to communicate. Not only does a coach have to talk to his players, he also has to be able to speak with his staff and parents.

One of the best examples is the difficult situation of having to explain to a parent why their child is not a starter. Instead of saying,“your child can’t play basketball,” an alternative answer maybe,“your child still needs a little work. ” Such a statement allows the parent to understand that with practice, their child will eventually become a better player.

Sense of Humor

Sometimes we take winning too seriously. For a volunteer coach, the pressure to win is not as vital as it is in the collegian or professional level.

Having a sense of humor creates a relaxing and fun environment. This takes the pressure off players, staff and parents.


In basketball, composure is everything. Coaches have to be able to maintain their composure with the team, staff, parents and the referees.

Knowing how to stay calm in tense situation takes a great deal of self-control. For example, when the referee makes a bad call against your team, you may feel like exploding. Losing control may not only cost you the game, it can cause you to lose the respect of your team, coaching staff and parents.


If you decide to coach, you must be committed to the team. If your job does not allow you the time to make every practice, then you should not accept a youth coaching position.

Young players look up to their coaches as role models. So be prepared and have willingness to spend time with the team. Remember, it takes hundreds of hours to build and nourish good, strong relationships and just one mistake to tear them down.


Have a winning attitude. Coaches have to be optimistic with their team. For example, film your team’s practice and show them their mistakes as well as their successes.

Winning is not about numbers, it is about building strong character. Teach your players the importance of winning not only on the court but in life as well. Be positive and help build young men and women with positive outlooks on the floor and in life.


Vision and mission are two ideas that are constantly discussed in business. It is important, as a head coach, to have a vision and mission for your team.

Give each player on your team a set of goals to meet for each game as well as for the season. These goals should be broken down and worked on in practice. For example, your point guard’s goal could be to have five (5) assists per game. Teach your point guard why you set that goal and how his achieving the goal will benefit the team.


Like good players who have exceptional court presence, coaches must have great instincts. Developing a feel for your team, staff and your opponent is critical to good leadership.

Coaching intuition will not come overnight but it will certainly come if you study and get to know each member of your team. Business leaders use the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) to learn about their competition. Knowing your team’s(and your opponents’) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats can help coaches build their basketball instinct.


The last and the most important leadership skill is charisma. Charisma is the ability to get your team, staff and your parents to believe in you as a coach and a leader.

If you demonstrate honesty, empower your players and communicate your vision, people will follow you. In addition, as a coach you have to demonstrate self-assurance, dedication, and knowledge of the game of basketball in order to build charisma.

The leadership qualities in this article can all be transferred from business to basketball. They can also help teach your young team members how to become leaders themselves.

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Brian Sass says:
10/27/2014 at 8:19:29 PM

I would add only one more to this list, which is a very good list: Servanthood.

I believe that people sometimes lead best when they demonstrate that they will help anyone with anything. That they will sublimate their own needs or desires for the betterment of the team.

Ever have a player who assisted someone fighting for the same position, the same minutes? There is power in looking at someone and saying: "You are my team mate, and there is nothing I will not do to help you succeed."

Leaders best lead at times by serving others.


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