Another championship game is in the books. And while we all intuitively know the road to the Big Game wasn’t easy, most of us don’t get to witness, nor can we really appreciate, all of the hard work, commitment, and teamwork behind the scenes that it took to get there.

There have been many, many parallels drawn between sports and business over the years. It’s not hard to understand why, especially when you consider how people talk about both and the words they use—words like goals, team, teamwork, communication, coaching, training, position, keeping score, competitors, winning, rookies, veterans, strategy, and leadership.

For most of us, it’s still early in the 2024 “season.” If we’re ahead of the curve, we’ve already identified what winning looks like for this year—our “championship” if you will. Some of us may be setting our goals right now. Either way, sports teams and businesses absolutely need that goal to give purpose to their pursuits. Have you defined that for your company yet? If not, what’s holding you back?

Like sports, the right equipment is a must for high-performing teams to perform at their best and do it efficiently, productively, and safely. And then there’s the game plan; the strategy and tactics implemented throughout the game that we hope will ultimately carry us to victory. Business plans, marketing plans, and sales plans are basically your company’s version of playbooks. These pieces are essential for any team to have a reasonable chance at winning.

If the strategy is wrong, the tactics often don’t matter.

Of course, to become great at any position on any team requires both training, which strengthens our knowledge and physical abilities, and practice which hones our skills, acumen, and muscle memory so that performance happens without having to think about the mechanics so much—it just happens instinctively.

Ultimately with any competitive team, the buck stops with the coach. Talent and leadership can sometimes emerge from within the players themselves, but most often it is the coach that recognizes the potential, draws it out and refines it, and helps people grow and develop. Coaches are the ones recruit players, build teams, map strategies, provide feedback, develop talent, and ensure all of the individuals are working cohesively toward a common goal.