Managing companies is quite similar to managing sportspeople – you have to find which strategy will help them deliver highest performance. Here’s a bunch of tips by a coach whose most successful swimmer, Michael Phelps, reached for olympic medals as many as 22 times (18 times gold!).

Check out: An Olympic Coach’s Strategies For Getting The Best Performance From Your Team




  • eager – strongly wanting to do or have something
  • cookie cutter 
  • buy into – accept the truth of
  • acknowledge – accept or admit the existence or truth of
  • stakes – a sum of money or something else of value gambled on the outcome of a risky game or venture (e.g. the stakes are high)

Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What approach is most effective when it comes to motivating individual people according to Bowman?
  • What is “the gold standard?”
  • What does Bowman say about making mistakes?
  • Why wasn’t Michael Phelps 100 percent happy about his winning the 200 Butterfly at the 2008 Beijing Olympics?
  • Do you agree with the statement: “The more successful you are, the more headaches that come with it. The stakes are higher.” Why? Why not?

Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct forms of the verbs in brackets.

For example, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Phelps won the 200 Butterfly, setting a world record with a time of 1:52.03. However, he ________ (be) upset with his performance because he ________ (set) an individual standard of 1:51 or better and ________ (not reach) it because his goggles ________ (fill) with water. While Phelps ________ (win) the gold medal, Bowman believes Phelps ________ (be) satisfied with the silver [if he] ________ (reach) the goal he’d set.


Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use one word per blank space.

“Each business has ___ gold standard,” Bowman says. It’s ___ to the leadership to decide what that standard is and ___ the organization gets there. Once the gold standard is set, everyone ___ the team needs to buy ___ it, he says. “We (the staff and athletes at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club where Bowman is CEO) try to be very process-oriented, performing up ___ a certain standard every day,” Bowman says. “(You can only) control ___ you can control,” he says.


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