Bringing Business to the Field: Sports Analogies & Coaching Insights

Episode #1094: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, we interview Michele Barry, CEO, Vistage Chair, Executive Leadership Growth Coach, CEO Peer Group Leader, and Consultant who holds a Master of Literature and Accounting, as well as numerous certifications in areas including the Predictive Index, EQi 2.0, EQ-1 360, and Leadership Circle Profile.


With Michele’s background as a former college athlete and teacher, paired with her current role as an executive coach and lifetime learner, we explore lessons from sports, parallels between sports and business, powerful questions, and nuances of performance coaching.



About Michele Barry

Michele Barry is a CEO, Executive Leadership Growth Coach, CEO Peer Group Leader, Vistage Chair, and Business Consultant. Michele is the CEO of M Barry Consulting out of Arlington, Massachusetts, and has been a Vistage Chair since 2005. Michele helps business leaders become better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.


In 2007, Michele became a Vistage Mentor Chair and began helping Vistage Chairs start their groups and become effective leaders. In 2012, Michele became a faculty member of Vistage and started teaching new-hire and advanced training courses for experienced Chairs. Prior to her consulting and coaching, Michele was a lead change management consultant and director at Fidelity Investments. Michele also worked in the education, training, and learning fields at Politzer and Haney. She has served as a learning and development manager, instructional designer, development editor, English teacher, and Mathematics teacher.


Michele is a Predictive Index Certified Partner practitioner, a certified EQI 2.0, and EQI 360 with Multi-Health Systems. She is also certified with the Leadership Circle Profile and a PI certified Talent Optimization Consultant. Additionally, Michele has a master’s degree in both literature and accounting.


Key highlights


Hockey and business

Timestamp 05:43


During a discussion on Wayne Gretzky’s quote regarding skating to where the puck is, Michele relates the speed of a hockey game to the fast-paced nature of business. She explains that in a hockey game, “you have to pass [the puck] to where [your teammates] are going” because the game is always moving. In the same way, “the world around us is constantly changing” and business leaders must be able to respond to the challenges of both today and tomorrow. Michele states that “as leaders and as executive coaches… we have to be constantly anticipating tomorrow and preparing for tomorrow and leading our organizations into tomorrow.”


Playing on the front foot

Timestamp 07:52


Severin introduces the topic of being in “protection mode” instead of pushing forward in sports and business. In response, Michele shares insight on a phrase from soccer: “playing on the front foot.” She explains that when businesses are in “protection mode” they are also being risk-averse to a fault and failing to move forward. Michele states that “playing on the front foot is a metaphor for moving forward… continuing to be growth-minded in business.”

Developing the next leaders

Timestamp 17:59


Severin and Michele discuss how many of the experienced and skilled leaders in the workforce are currently retiring and leaving a “huge gap in leadership.” Because of this, “younger and lesser experienced people are promoted into higher titled roles than ever before, faster than ever before.” While some larger organizations have training and development ready to go, smaller businesses don’t likely have those resources. In light of this, Michele leads emerging leaders and advancing leaders groups that help develop young leaders so that they can fill the shoes of those who are retiring. Michele explains that when business leaders invest in the development of their younger employees, it sends a cohesive message that they “invest in [their] internal growing, growing people.”


Meeting clients where they are

Timestamp 20:44


From her time in the education and training industry, Michele learned the importance of meeting “people where they are” and being “nonjudgemental with respect to where somebody is.” She explains that she is working with people who do not need rescuing, but who are “already talented and need help to fully realize their potential.”


The 3 C’s

Timestamp 32:18


In discussing her personal mantras and rules for life, Michele shares that she tries to stay as curious as possible, as courageous as possible, and as compassionate as possible. These three features help her be a high-impact and successful coach. However, they are all connected and depend on each other.


A discussion on quiet quitting

Timestamp 43:26


Michele and Severin discuss insight from the trending topic of “quiet quitting.” Michele defines quiet quitting as “a hallmark of poor leadership and poor corporate culture” which she believes has been going on for decades. Severin and Michele discuss the importance of leadership in response to the quiet quitting trend. Michele states, “you gotta lead… leaders have to inspire. Leaders have to motivate. Leaders have to create cultures that are healthy, that are thriving. You have to create an environment that [people] wanna come to every day.”


Download the transcript

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