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What’s the Difference Between Winning and Losing?

3 Tips for Ensuring You’re Coaching a Winning Team

Vince-lombardi-statueI’m a sports fan. And I’m the mother of two athletic teenage boys. I’ve watched a lot of ball games over the years, and I’d like to think I’ve learned a little bit about coaching. Recently, I watched a basketball game where the home team lost, but should have won. 

Why do I think they lost?  Coaching.

Despite the team’s collective talent, the coach allowed selfish play and poor execution without consequence.  More importantly, he failed to adjust his strategies to counter the opposing team's strengths. Occasionally, talent alone suffices in order to win a game. Most times, however, how that talent is deployed makes the difference between success and failure.

When it comes to making the best of your team’s talent, it pays to be a strong coach. Here are three tips to help you and your team succeed:
  1. Understand each team member’s talents and leverage them to achieve your objectives. A good coach looks at each player’s strengths and combines them for overall success. Just like on the court: where one player’s talent is dribbling and passing and another’s is shooting and rebounding, together they increase the team’s chances for success. Be cautious; it’s important to emphasize teamwork and making smart, selfless decisions. Egos are okay--even a necessity in sports and business--but not if they are disruptive to achieving the collective goal.
  2. When things aren't working as planned, don’t be afraid to shake it up and try something new, even if it’s just temporarily. The ability to adapt and adjust to changing or difficult situations is not easy.  Sometimes it is necessary to get away from our comfort zones in order to discover new ways to achieve goals. A shake-up could be the solution to combating a lull in morale, recharging a project, or coming up with a new, innovative idea. The new recruit who seems a bit green to handle a tough task--much like that first-year player on the bench waiting for his big break--might just be the spark that the rest of the team can rally behind.
  3. Defense and offense are equally important. There are two baskets, two end zones, a bottom and top of an inning and two hockey goals. Strong coaches will pay attention to their opponent's offense and defense and adapt accordingly. You can do the same. Take the time to ask your team members the right questions. Challenge them to develop creative solutions for the best offensive and defensive plays. 

Need help building your team? The AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section Human Capital Center has a wealth of resources on team development, performance management and staff retention to help firms build and strengthen their staff. Additionally, the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants recently released How to develop a strong and interdependent team, a tool that helps finance executives support their management accounting staff. 

What are your tips for coaching a business team?

Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, Senior Vice President – Public Practice and Global Alliances, American Institute of CPAs.

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