4 lessons corporate communicators can learn from soccer

I’ve never been overly fond of sports metaphors, but I recently discovered how much you can learn about communications by watching my son practice soccer.

My son’s soccer coach is an ideal communicator. He’s firm and direct when he’s teaching the team new skills, but also supportive as they practice what they’ve learned. He encourages the boys to try new things and provides candid feedback about their efforts.

Coach Marcus also does all this with an audience of highly competitive, yet easily distracted nine-year-old boys.

Below is advice he gives from the field—along with four ways it applies to corporate communications:

1. Same team

My son’s coach will yell, “same team” when two or three players from the same team fight each other for the ball. It’s a reminder to not fight your teammates for control.

How many times have you seen staff from different departments—or even staff from the same department—fight each other for control of a project? How about departments that don’t communicate with each other about projects?

A “same team” reminder could go a long way toward breaking down silos and preventing power struggles.

2. Tell others you like their ideas.

When one of the boys tries something new or unexpected at practice, Coach Marcus will say, “I like the idea.” Most importantly, he says it even if the effort is not successful.

Do people ever bring you ideas that are completely unworkable or make suggestions that don’t make sense for your department or project? Telling them that you “like the idea” and then explaining why it may not work can be a good way to let them down easily.

3. Ask, “Where should I be?”

When the kids are crowding around the ball or not playing their positions, Coach Marcus will ask, “Where should you be?”

Apply this to work when you must step back and take a look at the bigger picture. What should your role be in working on this project? Does the project we are being asked to take on fit in with our skill set? As communicators, where should we be?

4. Pass when you can.

Coach Marcus is constantly drilling the boys on passing the ball. The player with the ball should pass whenever it makes sense and the other players should be in a position to receive the ball.

“Pass when you can” means delegating. Though it’s important to take ownership of a project and see it through, it’s also important to let others do the same.

You never know what your co-workers are capable of, so when it makes sense, let them have the ball.

What do you think, PR Daily readers? Do you agree with this advice?

This article was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.

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