“You’re fired!”

Nearly 1/4 of NFL coaches have heard those words recently. These firings include coaches who have won Super Bowls and coaches who have a roster that includes All-Pro players even past MVPs on their teams. Some of these coaches will likely end up in the NFL Hall of Fame because of their astonishingly successful careers. However, none of those things can protect a coach forever.

Unfortunately, that is also true in other organizations. Like NFL coaches, leaders must maintain an environment of continuous improvement.

Coaches and business leaders are a lot alike in several ways:

Always be recruiting talent – Just like in the NFL, your role players are constantly changing. A great leader should always be considering what new talent is needed and making appropriate hires to compliment the team.

Engage in ongoing training – Leading NFL teams win because they execute the basics extraordinarily well. The same applies in the workplace. When you get the basics like sales, customer service, finances, and human resources mastered, everything else will improve.

Surround yourself with outstanding support personnel – sports teams rely on a massive roster off the field to succeed: assistant coaches, trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, therapist, sports psychologists, medical professionals, and others to keep the team functioning optimally. The same applies in business–supporting roles are essential to keep teams strong.

Commit to the continuous pursuit of innovation – Professional football has evolved and will continue to involve in the years ahead. What worked last season may not be the key to future success. In the business world, it’s important to continually look at new ways of executing tasks, serving customers, and branding products and services. Innovation is key.

Give constant feedback – During a game, coaches adjust their strategies all the time. Business leaders must do the same. Feedback is vital and must be ongoing. Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask for or give important feedback.

Celebrate successes – There’s a lot of on the field and post-game celebration in football. Players perform better when they receive praise and recognition. It’s amazing how much better a work team can be when they work in an environment with healthy and regular encouragement.

Like in sports, sometimes in business there are changes in ownership, new board of directors and even politics that can undo everything. But the winners in football and in business play their best game, treat their teams well, and focus on what they can control, and as a result, find themselves always winning regardless of the score.

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