Leadership and Sports Coaching Interview: Pete Walton

Ten lessons leaders can learn from top level football coaches.

What is common to both leadership and sports coaching? What is different? How transferable are the principles of coaching? And what can leadership coaches learn from sports managers and coaches?

To answer these question and more I turned to an old friend of mine, Pete Walton. After a successful career as a manager in business he transferred his talents to Premier League football as a referee. During a professional career spanning nearly 20 years, Pete refereed a number of notable matches, including the 2003 final of the Football League Trophy and the FA Community Shield in 2008. He officiated in the Premier League from 2003 to 2012. From 2013 he was General Manager of the Professional Referee Organization in North America until Howard Webb took over in January 2018. From 2019 Pete has worked as a referee analyst for BT Sport’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League, discussing key decisions and explaining the usage of VAR, both in-game and post-match. He also regularly appears on ESPN FC. He was part of ITV’s pundit team at this summer’s Euro 2020 to provide expert insight on all the major decisions during games.

The worlds of sport and business have been closely linked for as long as I can remember. Major sports events are big business. They involve big cities, big egos, and big bucks for the players and team owners. Perhaps big business – indeed, all business – can be seen as sport. Just listen to the sports-like language used by people in business. I often use sports metaphors myself in training and coaching sessions.

With Pete’s help, in this this article we’re looking at ten key areas of sport and leadership coaching.

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