Blog post

Top tips to win in business

Craig Keegan, Sport Performance Manager at the University and Assistant Coach of the Great British Women’s hockey team 2016, shares his knowledge of an athlete’s mindset in the business world and how to find a way to win.

By Craig Keegan - 22 August 2017

Our motto in the Olympic hockey team was ‘find a way to win’; this was part of our mindset and I believe that adopting an athlete’s outlook can help people achieve success in their professional life.

Balance your team players with others

When selecting the members of your team, you must consider a mixture of skills and abilities. In performance sport, the selection process is crucial to enable you to build a successful team and it’s just as important in business.

Create an open environment with your players

Create a strong team culture from the offset. Give your staff the opportunity to have their say. For your team to be successful, they must be prepared to say how they feel and what they think without the fear of repercussions. It takes time but it is rewarding.

Think as a team; win as a team

Your team has to be on board and bought into the vision and values of the business. People will buy into your culture if they are given the opportunity to contribute, they feel listened to and valued. In business, providing opportunities for employees to align their values and behaviours as a team can only create a stronger one.

Training is essential in anything you do

In competitive sport, the time training is significantly higher than the time spent competing, with 90% training and 10% performing. In business it’s the opposite way around; there’s a constant pressure to perform and little time spent on training or ‘thinking’ time. I believe that by increasing the amount of time allocated for staff to ‘train’ in work, this creates greater success in the future.

Turn failure into a positive

The word failure has no place in the world of sport and neither should it in business. Not meeting your target gives you an opportunity to realign and assess whether you have deficiencies in certain areas of your approach, or if it was the right approach to use at all.

Learn from your competition

As part of competitive sport, you have to know your competitors as well as they know themselves, so learn from your opposition, but also learn from businesses that aren’t related to your sector. I incorporated aspects of basketball training into my hockey coaching because I found them effective. By overlooking the functions of another business, you can understand how their culture works and incorporate best practice into your performance.

Success is a combination of environment, culture and people. Turn ‘failures’ into opportunities for positive change and learn from everything around you. If you think like an athlete you can succeed like one, and find a way to win.

Craig has spent the last 20 years coaching hockey and last year was part of the British female hockey team that received one of the 27 Olympic gold medals. Moving into the business world, Craig has been the Sport Performance Manager at the University for six months.

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About the author

Craig Keegan
Deputy Head of Sport responsible for Performance Sport

I joined the university in January to head up performance sport. In my previous life I was an Olympic and European Gold Medal winning coach. I am always a father to my beautiful daughter Olivia, and my favourite place on Earth is Tasmania.