What Leaders Can Learn From Olympic Cycling Coach Sir Dave Brailsford

Sir David Brailsford, Olympic coaching superstar. Ever heard of him? If not, you’ve probably heard of a few of the athletes he’s worked with; Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendelton – just a few of the athletes Brailsford has coached on their way to success.

But what exact qualities does Brailsford have that makes him such a successful coach? And what lessons can be learned and used within your business?

Look for Marginal Gains

Brailsford speaks often about marginal gains. It’s his view that mapping out every little detail of how you plan to be successful and improving each little detail by 1% adds up to an overall larger improvement. During this BBC Radio interview, Brailsford explains his philosophy.

Be a ‘Conductor of your Orchestra’

Brailsford once referred to himself as a Conductor of the Orchestra. His role as Performance Director of British Cycling saw him recognising talent and encouraging all the professionals, experts and athletes to perform at their best. His He spoke about this at an Investors in People talk during the Outperformance Roadshow.

Understand What Coaching Is

In his IIP talk, Brailsford spoke about the human mind and how his role involves encouraging an optimal performance. His talk addressed the ‘coaching mantra’ of sport and how the ‘dictate and control’ approach to coaching is an ineffective way of motivating individuals to outperform.

His alternative approach is a collaborative one, he speaks about creating an enjoyable environment for his athletes and rather than dictating the steps they take to success working together with them to help them on the way up.


Brailsford has many other qualities and philosophies that are guaranteed to drive the success of any business. It’s these kind of qualities that create great leadership.

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