Leadership is top sport

Shortly after the launch of my first book, I was interviewed by the largest information platform for the business sports market in the Netherlands, ‘sport knowhow XL’. I was asked 5 questions: as a former competitive sailor, as a sports administrator, as a business and leadership coach, and as an author.

What you may not know is that I have been sailing competitively since childhood. When I was 8 years old, I was put in a boat for the first time. It was “instilled in me from a young age”. Since then, I have seen many national and international racecourses. And I was the national youth team coach and the Dutch Paralympic team coach for a long time.

It’s no coincidence that I often draw parallels between leadership and elite sports in my book “My Best Team Ever! In 7 Steps to Golden Leadership.” I believe that elite sports and the business world are not so far apart. Here are some similarities I mention between elite sports and leadership.

Result Orientation

Both the business world and elite sports are result-oriented. Admittedly, the business world has a broader scope, and your career is much longer. Once the outcome is clear, a concrete plan can be made to achieve it.


Engagement is a ‘game-changer’. Engagement is also sometimes referred to as the ’emotional infrastructure’. With engagement, all involved parties make the difference. Look at how Jos Verstappen was always engaged in his son Max’s racing career. And still is. Engagement with your employees gives them wings.


Also known as the path to success. Within sports teams and within teams in the business world, you need to be able to rely on each other. Do what you say and say what you do.

Continuous Improvement and Impact

Continuous improvement (or Kaizen): always looking for opportunities for improvement and ways to eliminate redundant actions. In the business world, it is described as a popular phenomenon, but I don’t think it has ever been any different in elite sports. Constant improvement is inherent in elite sports. Look at the tremendous developments at the top of sailing: the America’s Cup. It is one of the oldest international sports events, and the newest innovative developments in sailing come from there.


The concept of ‘tapering’ comes from the world of swimming. It means that swimmers need to ease off after a training period and before an event to fully utilize their potential during a race. In my opinion, leaders can learn from this. When there’s a lot going on, there’s not a single leader who thinks about taking a break, but what would the consequences be if a breather were included?


Every elite athlete has a coach, every elite sports team has a coach. Don’t you have one? I see the benefits with my clients:

  • The desired outcome is crystal clear.
  • The path to it is always shorter and faster.
  • Patterns that hinder you are broken.
  • Your leadership is strengthened, leading to better performance from your employees.
  • You are held accountable for your set goals and activities. A push in the right direction.
  • Your mindset becomes rock solid.

Do you see yourself as an elite athlete? And are you a leader and/or entrepreneur? Then contact me!

And do you want to read more about “golden leadership”? Then read my book “My Best Team Ever! In 7 Steps to Golden Leadership.” Or do you want to know how you can further develop your leadership?

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