For This WNBA Coach, Successful Leadership Starts with Team Culture
Head coach Sandy Brondello of The New York Liberty on what it takes to lead a cohesive team.
What does your desk job have in common with professional basketball? More than you might think.
From visualizing success and running through high-pressure plays presentations to collaborating with teammates and seeking feedback from your coach boss, you’re constantly preparing for pivotal moments, aiming to perform at the highest level, and dealing with whatever’s thrown your way. It’s a lot to handle, and you fumble at times, but you know you’ll eventually get back up and find your footing again.
Turns out you have a lot in common with best-in-class athletes, which is part of why we’re so excited about our special new partnership with our local WNBA team, the New York Liberty. This multi-year collaboration is the first of its kind for both of our organizations and was born from our shared belief that the world is a better place when women succeed.
What does this partnership look like in action? We have a few balls in the air, actually: In addition to offering the M.M.LaFleur community discounted home-game tickets, we’re hosting special events and outfitting Liberty team members and executives in polished, movement-friendly Power Casual clothing.
Just a few weeks ago, head coach Sandy Brondello visited our Bryant Park showroom to hone her game-day style amidst a hectic playoff schedule, and we had the chance to ask her a few questions about her career. With over 18 years of experience coaching in the WNBA, she’s an inspiring figure, to say the least. We asked her to share some leadership advice you can put into play off the court—in your own career. Scroll to see what she had to say.
Want more M Dash?
Like in any workplace, athletes have diverse skill sets. How do you tailor your leadership style to meet individual needs?
“As a player, I had teammates who were from different countries and cultures from around the world, so I learned early on that it’s essential you build those relationships in order to understand your team. Now, as a coach, it’s really important to me that I take the time to get to know each of the players on an individual level. What makes them tick? If I truly understand how they operate, I can be of better service to them and their development. Given players’ differences, I definitely don’t coach everyone the same, but I always strive to be consistent with my leadership. The ultimate goal is to make sure each player knows that I value them and want them to be the best player that they can be.”
What inspired you to pursue a career in coaching, particularly in the WNBA?
“I’ve loved basketball since the age of nine, and I played professionally for 18 years. In short, the sport has been a defining factor in my life, and there’s no other industry I’d rather be a part of. After my playing career was over, coaching was a natural next step, and doing so in the WNBA was the dream opportunity.”
How does clothing play a role in how you communicate your professionalism and authority?
“I love dressing up, but being comfortable at the same time is absolutely crucial when I’m on the job. I need to stay focused, so I don’t have tolerance for anything that’s fussy. I tend to get a lot of steps in during games, so I actively look for pieces I can move in easily. At the same time, I do want to have a little bit of flair to show our players that their personal style is something to be proud of—that you can be an athlete or a coach, but there’s so much more to you, too.”