Our Executive Search team has been analyzing average tenure and time to hire data for general manager/president and head coach roles across the five major leagues (MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL) since 2015.
The idea that ‘Unicorn’ leaders are able to lead effectively without the support of an effective team and strong processes is an illusion. There are many extremely talented leaders in the sports industry, but their skills are amplified by the skills of those around them.
As we’ve discussed previously, the great leaders we might label as ‘Unicorns’ don’t operate in splendid isolation. Rather than being an omniscient force, they are often guided by a highly competent support team and benefit from effective organizational processes.
As leaders in the sports industry, we’ve all been dealing with uncertainty in recent months as we navigate a range of unknowns related to the coronavirus pandemic. When faced with unprecedented scenarios for which we are relatively unprepared, a lack of prior experience and available reference points can make it difficult to understand potential risks and outcomes.
In a 2013 TechCrunch article, the venture capital investor Aileen Lee used the term ‘Unicorn’ to describe the rarity of privately held startups with valuations of over $1 billion. Since then the term has been adopted to describe anything that proves to be rare and magical across a broad range of disciplines.
As with the mythical beast, a Unicorn leader is considered to be so rare and to possess such magical powers that it becomes an iconic entity to be pursued at any cost. And therein lies the problem – at any cost. Magical leaders come at a price both financially and organizationally.
As we all adjust to the current global crisis, it can be useful to learn how organizations throughout history have adapted to major organizational trauma.
As elite sports prepare to make a return, they do so not only against the backdrop of a global pandemic but also unprecedented social unrest. Despite the huge amount of planning that has gone into the safe return of competition, these exceptional circumstances have seen a number of athletes express understandable concerns over returning to play on medical and/or social grounds.
For many organizations, the only way to ensure survival in a sporting landscape shaped by the pandemic is to adapt. Those adaptations can only be brought about when the challenges of the moment are confronted with openness, honesty and realism.
Thorough systems analysis can help sports organizations to avoid long-term damage as they respond to the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.