Connect with us


Be a Sports Coach Not a Boss

Business owners often think that leadership and being the boss are the same thing. To get real results from your employees start thinking about being a sports coach – not the boss.

Lynn Madeley




I was her. It was all about me. I was good at what I did and knew it. The people who worked for me were only there to make me look good. I rose rapidly through organisations, was given management responsibilities early and was quick, hungry and on top of the technical elements of my job. I rose rapidly through the ranks.

What I wasn’t, was a leader. I didn’t even know what leadership was until I was “led” by a man who showed me everything it wasn’t. He tried to fire me.

Related: What Leadership Style Are You and Will It Get Results?

I’d never been unsuccessful before and the process of not being loved and adored taught me the most important leadership lessons I ever learned. So thank you ex-boss, whether intentionally or not you made me better at what I do.

What I learned was that leadership is a continuum. The more you submit to it the better you become. Now, with a few more years on the clock, I describe what I do as being a head sports coach, but for a business. I use the words “sports coach” specifically. As heads of companies we are not executive coaches or life coaches, which are roles all of their own and, when done well, can add enormous value.

As CEOs we are employed to win – but we are only as good as the people we work with and our job must be to guide, inspire, motivate and empower our teams to reach their full potential.

That’s all well and good, but how do you do this?

Ultimately, good leaders figure their own way through the quagmire and in so doing – if they are good enough – they will inspire a healthy mixture of love, respect and, hopefully not fear.

What follows is a long and by no means exhaustive list of what I have learned over an extended career. The list of what not to do would be equally long and onerous but I believe in focusing on what to do not concentrating on what not to do.

Surround yourself with people who really, really want to win


They may not know how to do the job yet but they must have the hunger to be brilliant. I employ people who have excelled at school in something, whether it be sport, music or academics. This tells me that they have the capacity to go the extra mile and that they have already felt the elation of winning and want more of it.

Look for passion

I don’t mind what people are passionate about, but they have to prove an above-average energy for an interest. If the CV says under interests and hobbies, ‘watching television’ it’ll get binned.

Be humble

You need humility as it’s no longer all about you. In fact, it’s about everyone else. You have to be prepared to stay in the shadows and let your players shine. That doesn’t mean you don’t have an opinion or a point of view, you just exercise it less because you need to hear the opinions and points of view of the people around you.

Related: Inspiring Leadership, No Matter Your Style

Allow others to receive recognition

You must want people to be brilliant and don’t try and take credit for ‘making’ them because real superstars will make themselves. They know they need a good coach, so they will keep swapping out (changing jobs) until they find someone that works for them.

Listen and observe

You learn much more about people when you are not speaking. If you see a drop in performance ask “what’s up?” before demanding answers.

If people are honest with you, you can plan and change things. If you intimidate them you will never understand their wants and needs and will not be able to help them maximise their potential for themselves and, therefore, for you.

Be flexible

Don’t find yourself saying no to something because you have said no before. Maybe this time is a good time to say yes.

Stay naive

Keep changing, keep questioning, keep asking “So what?” and “What if?”, to yourself as much as your team.

Stay curious

Be thirsty for knowledge and information and then make sure you share it. Curiosity pays dividends so never stop looking under rocks and never stop looking under the hood of your own organisation to make sure it is operating at maximum efficiency.

Set an example

You can’t be expected to do everyone’s job, but you have to set the standard and the ethic that you require. You don’t do their jobs so this is not about time in the saddle, it is about your emotional and intellectual commitment to the needs of the business.

Related: Here’s How Clothes Can Make You A More Effective Leader

Stay in charge

Don’t think for one moment that a coaching style of management is soft. Successful sports coaches are never weak and they are respected because of what they offer to the players not because they are feared.

If they are feared and do not facilitate their players being brilliant then the players leave. It is the same in business.

Always remain on top of your game

As a leader you don’t have to be able to kick the ball as well as your players, but you do have to know how to make someone kick the ball better. Everyone who works must become one of your coaching staff and share your positive attitude towards being brilliant and constantly learning.

Most importantly, stay hungry. You need to want to win as much or more than the people you work with. You will need more energy and more tenacity than anyone else in your business. Hard work must excite you and you must relish it.

Athletes don’t moan about how much they have to train, neither should your business team, not because they are frightened to do so, but because deep down they just love it. So should you.

Lynn Madeley is the CEO of Havas Southern Africa. She was also an event rider who rode internationally and is a qualified riding coach.


4 Common Myths About Leadership That Can Hold You Back

Alignment with your values and belief systems is the foundation of becoming an effective leader.

Malachi Thompson




To be a great leader in today’s world, being a brilliant knowledge expert or technician is no longer enough. Even harder is trying to learn the golden rules of the wrong and right ways to be a great leader. The amount of content spouted in countless books and resources is overwhelming let alone confusing.

To be unstoppable leaders for our businesses and our people, tuning out from the noise and distractions potentially misguiding us is pertinent now more than ever. Pay attention to any presence of these four myths and make guiding your people a more soul-enriching journey that they and you will want to continue well past your leadership term’s end.

Myth 1: Great leaders are highly ranked individuals

Richard Branson proves a classic example of how great leaders can get to the top without having ivy-league school connections and astounding qualifications. Having had enough of struggling at school, Branson dropped out of the highly reputed Stowe boarding school at the age of 16 to start a magazine called Student. The first publication sold $8000 worth of advertising. We all know the Virgin story from there on. Then there are the likes of Rachael Ray, food industry personality whose empire has amassed a $60M fortune without her having any culinary qualifications whatsoever.

There’s a common entrepreneurial DNA that runs through the veins of such leaders. An avant-garde vision, tenacity and patience seem to be common underlying themes for many. For others, it’s about making sacrifices and taking risks that could cost their life to serve a cause extending far beyond serving their own needs.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

By publicly speaking out against the Pakistan Taliban’s extremist rulings, one of which of was to prevent females from accessing education, Malala Yousafzai became a target. At 15 years of age, a masked gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the head. She survived and many months of rehabilitation spurred her determination to fight for every girl to have the opportunity to attend school. The work she achieved through establishing the Malala Fund with the undying support of her father, earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 2014.

Whether from desperation or a happy place there is always the genesis of a passion driving a persistence to go against the grain and to continue the fight. Often there’s no formal training, qualification or certification in sight.

Myth 2: Following a certain checklist of behaviours will make you a great leader

The ‘fake it ‘til you make’ adage has become a common throw-away phrase consultants and coaches spout as a means to quickly build confidence. Following advice to merely emulate the behaviour of those you admire and respect can pose grave risks, especially when you become a leader by default as opposed to by your own audition. Smart teams can smell falsehood and copycats a mile away. Your integrity will often be scrutinised and your jury will constantly evaluate the values and principles you lead by. One foot wrong might end your leadership term just as quickly as it began and not necessarily by your team’s choosing.

Imagine being tasked with driving credit card sign-ups yet you yourself struggle to make repayments on your own overdraft. How long can you resist your inner conscience? You’ll feel the tug every time you invite a customer to sign up and at every request to your team to follow suit. At some point, you’ll be struggling to face yourself see in the mirror.

This article was originally posted here on

Continue Reading


9 Ways To Get Employees To Buy Into Your Vision

Your business is your dream come true, now it’s time to include your employees in your vision to drive future success.

Nicholas Bell




Your vision statement is the foundation of your business. It is the baseline against which all strategic planning is assessed and the benchmark against which all results are measured. However, as important as it is to have a vision when it comes to business success, it is equally important to get your employees to buy into this vision to ensure that success.

Here are nine ways to get your employees to buy into your vision by making it their dream, as much as it is yours…

  1. It must be believable – Your company vision needs to be within the realms of possibility otherwise people just won’t believe in it. It must be steady, achievable and relevant.
  2. It must be inclusive – Employees need to see how they can play a part in achieving this vision to make it relatable and inclusive. If they don’t understand what the business does, they won’t care how well the business does.
  3. It must be reinforced – Talk about your vision all the time. Don’t assume everybody has read it or is familiar with it as new people may not have seen it and older people may have forgotten. Constant communication is critical to ensure everyone is, literally, on the same page.
  4. It must be transparent – Make sure your communication around your vision is open and clear. Talk about it with clients, with all staff members, at all meetings and keep on talking until everyone understands it. When a vision is tangible and accessible it is far more achievable than when it is ethereal and vague.
  5. It must be practical – Don’t make flamboyant statements that are almost impossible to achieve like, ‘We will be number one in X!’. Be practical. It doesn’t matter if you’re not number one, it does matter  that  your vision is practical.
  6. It must be shared – Connect people’s careers to the vision by creating opportunities for them. Show them how the work they do is tied back to the vision and the business. If the business is only about profit and customer, then employees often don’t see how they fit in or why they are important. Create opportunities for them and they will be inspired to achieve your vision.
  7. It must be people-centric – People make up the core of your business. It is bigger than just one person or one idea. So, give them something to aspire to with a realistic, practical and human company vision.
  8. It must have purpose – Embed your vision and its values into the way you do business. The way you treat your employees and your customers and the choices you make should all reflect your vision.  Take it beyond just ‘We want to make money’ and show how your vision positively affects your community and others.
  9. It must be visible – Put your vision on doors, in emails, on letterheads, in proposals. Show what you stand for at every opportunity. Employees need to feel that there is a cohesive plan for the future. This will not only drive engagement but it will keep them steadfast when times get tough – they believe in the ship too much for it to sink.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

Continue Reading


What’s Your Number? How To Unpack Company Valuations

Business is booming. Investors want in. But how do you put a price on the value of the company you have built with your own hands?

Louw Barnardt




Company valuations is such a hazy part of the scale-up journey of a private company. Putting a price tag on a business is both art and science. At the end of the day, the number that makes the headlines (if ever disclosed) will be where willing buyer and willing seller meet.

But how do you , as business owner,  go about setting your asking price? Before approaching investors, it’s a good exercise to determine your own valuation range for the business. Choosing the right valuation method is the first big question. The answer has many parts to it, but the most important driver is the stage of the business.

Let’s look at some of the most commonly accepted valuation methods in our market:

Earnings Multiple

Applicable stage: Established, profitable companies

Listed companies, institutional players and private equity investors normally invest in a company for its cash flow profit that can contribute to their portfolio income. More often than not, companies will be valued based on their current earnings (bottom line profit after tax).

This method can only be used for companies that consistently make a profit. A multiplier will be chosen based on the company’s perceived risk. Younger, more risky businesses will likely have lower multipliers (as low as 3 and 4) and high growth, well established, lower risk companies will get higher multipliers (8-15).

Sometimes small adjustments are made to current year earnings (like non-standard, non-repeating income statement items) after which the valuation is set at Earnings times multiplier equals company valuation.

Related: 7 Factors That Influence Start-up Valuations

Discounted Cash Flow (DCF)

Applicable stage: Post-revenue start-ups, growth companies and established businesses

The most commonly used method in practice, the DCF method argues that a company’s value is determined by the future cash flows that it will yield to investors.

The starting point is creating a five to ten year cash flow forecast for the business. This is no small feat. In order to create a full financial model – income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement – for the next decade requires a lot of work, both from a strategic and technical perspective.

Investors love this model because if forces the owners to put a clear strategy and expansion plan for their business into numbers. It will include dozens if not hundreds of assumptions – all of which can be scrutinised for reasonability. The result of financial model will be five to ten years’ worth of projected cash flows. These amounts are then discounted to present value at a discount rate that reflects the company’s risk and expected cost of capital.

The sum of the discounted future cash flows plus a terminal value (that represents the value after the five or ten year period of the model) then represents the valuation of the company after some final small adjustments for things like existing debt in the business.

Revenue Multiples

A revenue multiple valuation approach is focused on the market for similar businesses and is underpinned by your company’s current turnover. It seeks out the sales price of other similar companies in the country or worldwide, adjusted for size, stage and market differences.

A company that sold for R100 million at a turnover of R50 million would have a two times revenue multiple (valuation/revenue). If the average revenue multiple for similar companies is in a certain range, this multiple is then slightly adjusted and applied to your business.

If the average sale in your industry has been two times revenue but you are growing much faster than the average with a better competitive advantage, you can argue that two and a half times revenue is a more applicable number for your business. Revenue multiples are often used as a reasonability check in the market for the current asking price.

Related: Why Start-ups Like Uber Stumble When They Scale

Other methods

Most established companies are valued using one or a combination of more than one of the above three methods. At start-up stage, there are a number of other methods like Cost to Replicate or the Scorecard Method that early stage investors look to. When a company is simply in too early stage to practically value it, seed stage investors would also consider SAFE Agreements (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) – an instrument that determines that the percentage of the company the investors are buying with their investment. This is only determined when the Series A round is raised at a future date and under certain conditions, generally at a discount to the price the series A investors are paying.

Company valuations are complex. Many of the above technical factors play a role. A lot of it also comes down to the salesmanship of the owners and the negotiating capabilities of the parties. In ‘How Yoco Successfully Secured Capital And The Importance Of A Pitch’, the Yoco team speak about the importance of the right approach in their recent R248 million fundraising

Don’t go into this process without seeking some kind of expert advice. The price of the wrong valuation is simply too high. Make your numbers and your arguments bulletproof and you will be on your way to defending a strong and exciting valuation for your next raise!

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.