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Brian Scudamore is founder and CEO of O2E Brands, which includes home-service companies including 1-800-Got-Junk?

Business leaders and sports coaches are cut from the same cloth: they create and execute strategies, motivate their teams and provide ongoing feedback to help everyone succeed. They celebrate victories (and learn from losses), and always keep their eye on the prize.

Our managing director of Wow 1 Day Painting, James Alisch, has always been inspired by coaches with proven track records for success, so it's no surprise that he believes a huge part of leadership is the ability to coach. Studies have shown that employees prefer to have a mentor over a manager – and companies with robust coaching programs are stronger across the board.

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For Mr. Alisch, one of the most important tools in a coach's playbook is the ability to communicate. A team can't succeed unless they're all on the same page – so everyone needs to speak the same language. That's why Mr. Alisch has worked to ensure his team is aligned on the definition of the following three concepts.

Define Goals

You can't win a game without scoring goals. And you can't score a goal if you don't know what you're shooting for. As coach, it's your job to create a strategy, but more importantly, to be clear on the definition of the word goal.

Let's say Wow 1 Day Painting earned $10-million last month. If this month we hit $20-million, many people would see the increase alone as a win. But if the goal was set at $21-million, Mr. Alisch defines it as a miss.

To him, a goal isn't what we'd like to achieve – it's what we will achieve, together. He sets goals using the SMART goals format and feels that getting close isn't enough because missing goals kills employee commitment. Mr. Alisch has ingrained this concept so strongly in the Wow 1 Day Painting culture that his team refuses to settle for anything less than a win .

We know it's impossible to bat a thousand every time, and we take losses as a chance to learn. But it's a fine line: if you let "getting close" become your standard for success, you'll breed a team of underperformers and a culture of mediocrity. Defining goals changes the game and will line your team up for a home run.

Define Conflict

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Business is a contact sport. To score, you need to tackle problems as they come and keep pushing forward to the end zone.

The downside is that most people see conflict as something to avoid. But unresolved conflict can destroy your company culture, and the longer you wait, the worse it will become. That's why our philosophy is to race to the problem and try to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

One of our franchise partners, Kim Rood, is an A-player when it comes to conflict. When customer complaints arise, he will meet with them in person to discuss concerns and diffuse negative emotions. He always errs on the side of over-delivering and as a result, his painting business is growing exponentially.

For Mr. Alisch and the Wow 1 Day Painting team, conflict isn't about placing blame. Instead, it's an opportunity to talk openly about what's not working and come up with solutions. You can't reach your goals without resolving conflicts – and it starts with aligning your team on what conflict means to you.

Define Customer Experience

Fans are to sports what customers are to business: the most important driver of team success. Without a loyal following, you can't sell tickets to the game, and in business, that's a fast track to failure.

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Our customers are the lifeblood of our business, so providing an all-star experience is paramount to us. If you succeed in making the customer experience exceptional, you'll create customer relationships that last a lifetime.

Craig Merrills, our franchise partner in Washington, makes customer experience his number one priority. He even refuses to accept payment until his customers are truly Wow-ed, because he knows relational customers are more valuable than transactional ones. His customer loyalty proves it: his repeat business far outpaces anyone else in the system.

"Bandwagoners" might give your team a temporary high, but they'll never compete with the value of a loyal fan base. Our long-term customers are the fuel behind our fire and that's why their experience is our ultimate priority.

As far as sports go, business is one of the toughest. Competition is stiff, tensions run high and reaching MVP status is no easy feat. But if you're can create a common language to unify your team, you'll be unstoppable.

Executives and human-resources experts share their views in the ongoing Leadership Lab series. Find stories here and follow us @Globe_Careers.

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