Master of Science in Sport Management Online

3 Sport Leaders Who Paved the Way

From the court to the field to the rink, there are amazing leaders in every sport. But what makes these leaders successful? Sport managers today have a lot to learn from these successful sports icons, especially since leadership is crucial in this career path.

We took a closer look at some of the top sport leaders to see what lessons we can learn from their experience. Check out how you can improve as a sport manager by using the lessons that we’ve gleaned from these leaders’ successful careers.

Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K)

Image via Flickr by West Point – The U.S. Military Academy

Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, is an icon whom anyone majoring in sport management should look up to. His success has been clearly demonstrated at Duke over the years, with four national championships and over 800 career wins. Plus, he coached the gold-medal-winning Olympic basketball team. Clearly, this coach knows how to bring out the very best in his players. But how does he do it? Chances are that it’s because he cares about his players’ lives off the court as well. Coach K has graduated 90 percent of his scholarship players, which is among the highest percentages in D-1 basketball.

Lesson learned: Athletic success comes from leaders who take a sincere interest in their players’ lives.

 Derek Jeter

Image via Flickr by Rubenstein

With his epic career for the Yankees now over, you might wonder what all the Derek Jeter fuss was about. After all, he didn’t boast the greatest stats by any means. But Jeter succeeded in leading his team to five World Series wins, and any fan can recall some truly amazing moments of his on the field. The key for Jeter wasn’t statistics; it was his dedication. He played hard and sacrificed his body on more than one occasion. He was a smart and tenacious force on the field, and it inspired other players to follow his lead.

Lesson learned: Heart matters more than hard stats when you need a team leader.

Bill Polian

Image via Flickr by Paul J Everett

As Indianapolis Colts president and general manager, Bill Polian had his work cutout for him from the beginning. Despite having the fifth-lowest payroll in the NFL, Polian put together a team that won back-to-back Super Bowl championships followed by a record of 39-9 over three years. How’d he do it with such limited funds? Polian decided to prioritize his picks at quarterback, corner, offensive tackle, and pass rusher. For example, with Peyton Manning at the helm, he could save with a sixth-round draft pick (Pierre Garcon), who teamed up with Manning for a successful season.

Lesson learned: When faced with a limited budget, prioritize your spending in strategic ways.

With these modern-day sports heroes to look up to, today’s sport managers have a lot of great examples of success. Though these leaders have paved the way in various sports, there’s still so much that can be done to improve athletics. Sport managers should borrow from these proven strategies while also bringing their own unique vision to continue creating strides in sports history.