I know that you've worked a lot with coaches and in sports generally. You've written two books about what leaders can learn from sports and from coaching. So, what can leaders learn about motivation from that context? Sport is a great context where to study motivation. At Bocconi we have a sport knowledge center. A completely dedicated center for research and training in sport. We study sport initiatives that can be transferred to the corporate world and vice versa. What makes a great team leader though? First of all in sport there is a peculiarity of practice. Typically, I don't see considered in the same way in the corporate world. So there is a simple equation in sport. The better you practice, the better you play. Sometimes they say work hard, and play harder. That's a typical sentence in the sport context. I don't see the same relevance of practicing the corporate world and I would like to see this more and more in the business school for example or in the daily work activities in organizations. So what would that practice look like in a business context in your view? For me everything is can be considered a practice element. It depends on how you interpret it. What you learn from it in a way. What you learn from it in a way. Right? Yeah. Learning. The focus is how everyone is able to learn. Learning from mistakes. Learning from experiences. Learning from others. Learning through readings, learning through listening, so there are a bunch of opportunities and everyone is to find his or her own way to learn. Okay, okay. Through that experience of practicing you learned what makes you and what makes the team perform that’s the idea, right? Exactly because you can learn not only how to improve your individual performance, but how you can improve the team performance. So you can learn how to work with others. You can learn how to play with others. And that's key in a team. Sure. Based on what coaches told me, it's quite impossible to see a bad practice and a winning team so, it's absolutely not possible to conceive. So one depends on the other? Based on this research then what is it that coaches concretely do to achieve this effective practice and team performance? What is it that they do with their teams? Based on research I noticed that there are two main focuses. One is inside the locker room. Okay. And the other is outside the locker room. Inside the lock room the coach has to be focused on two main elements. One is individual motivation and the other one is team spirit. Individual motivation is key. So every single coach must understand motivational needs for a single player. Of a single player. So we have a situation where you can have a young player or an experienced player. You can have a player that maybe is willing to go to a national team, or maybe it's the first year that he's playing in a foreign country. So a coach must consider all these peculiarities and work on individual motivation. But that's not enough, of course? Absolutely because you have to win and then in order to win you have to work on team performance, and team performance it's basically summarizing the two key words based on what the coaches said. One is reciprocity, and the other one is sacrifice. Reciprocity in terms of help, in terms of support, and sacrifice in terms of-. This is players supporting each, what is the reciprocity? One player to another or the coach to another player and back. No, among players. Among players. One player is able, is willing to help another player. Mm-hm. And this should be reciprocated, obviously. And this is a sign of team spirit. Another sign of team spirit is sacrifice. Where individually, a player is willing to sacrifice a piece of individual performance for a collective goal. Okay, great. This is the inside the locker room? The individual and the team performance. So what happens outside the locker room then? Outside the locker room the key word is stakeholders. Okay, stakeholders. Stakeholders, internal stakeholders, or external stakeholders. A coach must be able to synchronize resources and activity inside the club, working with internal stakeholders. For example the staff, the marketing department, the communication department, the owners sometimes, and all the other small units. That in a way can influence or are influenced by the team as a whole. Okay. This is internal stockholders, it's quite important because the team can receive positive or negative influence from others. Let's think about a international tournament. Mm-hm. that marketing department decides to set during Christmas time. This can change the technical plan, This can change the technical plan, even though it can increase the budget for a players or for new investments. There is always a balance. In terms commercials needs and technical needs. Why do you call it synchronizing? Synchronize because actually the coach doesn't have a hierarchical power in order manage or to change these kind of activities. So you have to kind of create alignment through influence and—? He or she must work on a horizontal perspective. He or she must create alignment among departments, obviously, sharing common goals. Common goals that are obviously related to team performance. That's the the synchronization, there was another part to it. The second part is environmental reputation. Basically, external stakeholders: Everything the coach does outside the club. This means working with referees, media, fans, agents, other players, other coaches, and so on and so forth. Wait, coaches are influencing referees? Isn't that illegal? I'm not saying influencing, but in a sense they must establish a dialogue. because obviously the referees make subjective decisions and everything that is subjective can be influenced. So in a sense it's not illegal. But they must show a sign of respect. They must apply the rules in the correct way. And this also a piece of political job, that coaches typically do. The team sees that the coach is fighting for them, essentially establishing a positive relationship with the coach. So that the team is protected. Is that the idea? Yeah, it's important that the team perceive as whole Yeah, it's important that the team perceive as whole that the coach is able to establish relationships at different levels with different actors. In the clubs and outside. Let's think about the pressure that media can put on players. Let's think about the possibility to get a new player, for example. If I'm a player, I’ll be more than happy if my coach is is very good in bringing other players in my team because my possibility to win will increase. So obviously the more the coach is effective working with the stakeholders outside-. So this would be the agents or-? Yeah, it would be agents sometimes they share contacts, personal relationships. So a coach is a person in the environment that must have a certain reputation. That's what I call environmental reputation. Okay. So the coach connects the team in a way with all the external stakeholders in a productive way. I like that. What is interesting is that my individual motivation as a player, depends on my coach’s behavior outside the club. It’s not only what the coach does with me personally, or during the game, or with my colleagues my teammates. It's also important what he or she does outside with other stakeholders. Yeah because they have such a big influence on how the team feels That's very nice. Those are things coaches should be doing inside and outside the locker room. What should they not be doing? Very simple. They should avoid replicating the winning model. Okay. But it’s a winning model, wouldn't you replicate that? Yeah, the a winning model is typically the first model that they apply. And the model that gave a certain positive result. You know, it can be winning because they won a trophy or cup, or just because they've reached very positive results with a certain team. They should avoid to replicate exactly the same model. Okay. For example, from a B club when a coach goes to an A club. There are a lot of variables that change. Yeah, absolutely. And the coach must consider these kinds of changes and must adopt, reapply the his or her style to this different context. What, in management, we call situational perspective and this is a certain attitude, a certain skill that the coach sometimes has, sometimes doesn’t. The coaches then that have this ability to adapt situational they are the ones that are successful then in your research. Successful coaches are able to evolve over time. They are able to learn from mistakes from losses. They are able to adapt. To consider the fact that they need to change something. When they typically reapply there is always a limit. The limit where they typically are fired. This is unfortunately what we would not see, but it's actually a sign when a coach was not able to evolve. Okay. Great, well thank you so much for sharing that. I think there's a lot of food for thought there for a leader. I think in general, it's using sport not only as a metaphor, but as a method would be very interesting for companies. I don't really like the idea of investing a lot on the sport values inside the company. That's exactly what I'm trying to do with my research and with the Center at Bocconi, more sporting companies and more management in sport. So you told us what leaders should be doing inside the locker room and outside the locker room. Is there something that they should not be doing? Very simple: they should avoid repeating the winning model over time in different contexts, in different clubs. But it's a winning model, isn't it? Yes, but it was able to generate positive results in that specific context, typically a C-club or a B-club. When they go to higher, for example to an A-club, some coaches tend to replicate the same model, and the same model doesn't work just because there are different conditions, different context condition variables, for example the quality of athletes, the salaries of athletes, the complexity of the goals, the number of games that they play, even the number of fans at the stadium. Higher higher higher will bring a higher number of stakeholders with a different kind of a quality that they need to put in place in order to manage and handle the different parts.