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Six Leadership Lessons from Sports Executives

By Joe Frontiera, PhD and Dan Leidl, PhD  |  Posted 08-31-2009 Print
CIOs looking to transform the culture of their IT organizations could learn something from the world of professional sports.

Many CIOs are hired specifically to make a major impact on both the productivity and the direction of the IT department. When these executives arrive at their new jobs, they often find that overcoming the existing culture is akin to swimming upstream against an overpowering current.

They discover that their inherited teams lack accountability, think of deadlines as flexible, disregard processes, and treat others within the organization poorly. Needless to say, anticipated turnarounds prove elusive.

This scenario parallels the many attempted "turnaround" projects in professional sports. Countless examples exist where a new coach or general manager is appointed to impact change, struggles with the task, and is soon replaced with the next change agent.

However, there are sport executives who have proven to be skilled at the art of the turnaround. Bill Stoneman (former GM, Los Angeles Angels), Jeffrey Lurie (owner, Philadelphia Eagles), Rod Thorn (President, New Jersey Nets), Bill Polian (President and GM, Indianapolis Colts), Geoff Petrie (GM, Sacramento Kings) and Dan Rooney (owner, Pittsburgh Steelers) each architected a major turnaround within their respective franchises.


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