Why Athletes And Business Leaders Are Really Not That Different

Being an elite athlete means having to face intense competition, leading by the smallest margins, establishing short and long term strategies, applying hard work and determination, working with team mates and recovering from failures and setbacks, all in an effort to achieve your goals and targets. Sound incredibly familiar?

Success in sports and business alike is determined by your ability to commit, perform and continually improve to the next level. Achievements this year will set newer, higher goals for next year, creating a relentless demand for you to deliver. So what can business leaders learn from elite athletes?

Athletes are made, not born

While athletes have to be gifted with a few natural abilities such as coordination, flexibility and physical fitness, just like business leaders need to have people skills and strategic thinking, the real key to excellence in either field is the development of mental toughness and unwavering focus. Through this, both athletes and leaders in business can thrive in the most pressure filled situations, stay on track among a sea of distractions and maintain their belief in themselves in the most difficult of circumstances.

Getting to the top is easier than staying there

The very best athletes, just like the very best employees, get to the top with consistently high performance, careful planning and the achievement of many smaller goals along the way. However, as difficult as it is to get to the top, staying there is considerably harder. Both business leaders and elite athletes face enormous expectations, are exposed and vulnerable in the limelight and are often looked at to set examples for colleagues and those below them. Sustained success in this environment requires a resilient mindset and an ability to constantly reinvent yourself in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Teamwork is crucial to success

 “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships” – Michael Jordan.

It’s easy to note the importance of teamwork when it comes to sport. Yet, many fail to understand the need for excellent teamwork is vital for a business to succeed as well. A good team knows its goals and every member coordinates and cooperates to unify their efforts and produce quality output. In addition, good teamwork reduces risk through an equal distribution of work as well as the goodwill and understanding of members to help where they can. To be a successful business professional, know your team well and ensure everyone understands their role and your role. Become the coach everyone wants to lead their team.

Take time to celebrate

Elite athletes work hard, but they also play hard. Hard work and commitment should be rewarded, so regardless of the pressure your business faces, don’t forget to celebrate the victories, no matter how small they are. These celebrations serve as a reminder to why you stay committed and can often inject you with a boost of enthusiasm to strive forward.

There is much to learn in business from top athletes and by noting the parallels between both worlds you can better drive yourself and your organisation to victory.

I would love to hear what successes you have had as a leader by applying what you have learned in sport to your role in business and as a leader.


Regenerating Careers: Why Women Are Better!

When women make the decision to re-enter the workforce after having a family, they are often met with skepticism and the belief that they hold no relevant experience or are out of touch. This, however, is far from the truth.

Women who put their careers on pause to start a family develop an entirely new set of skills and experiences through their personal endeavours that are marketable to potential employers. In addition, they are able to bring with them a fresh pair of eyes not having worked in the industry or workforce for a period of time.

Being organised and prioritised

Mothers of newborns learn best how to be organised as every minute of their time matters. The ability to predict upcoming demands to save time and reduce stress, and creating structure for their families, helps develop strong organisational skills. This ability is vital in being efficient in the workforce as demanding workloads, meeting schedules and deadlines are part of everyday work life. Mothers returning to the workforce can quickly identify long term needs and daily actions, separate recurring task from the ad hoc, as well as identify what deserves priority. They learn from previous work experience and through family life to be more proactive to better manage the workload.

Making time

Most of us in the workforce look for interruption-free time as we’re constantly bombarded with information and distractions. It often takes years of practice to be highly skilled at separating the noise and maximising the time you have to yourself to be productive. Women who have spent a few years with the needs of children have learned to tune in to their most productive time, as their young ones don’t often follow a specific pattern of distractions. These women can apply their acquired skill in the workplace to work around their teams and be an effective manager whilst being productive as an individual member of the organisation.

Giving 100%

When women have children, they learn quickly that they need to be dedicated and focussed. Similarly, these women understand better the needs of business that one must fully commit to ensure the business thrives. They place a higher importance on quality of work over quantity, and avoid performing tasks hastily just to check them off a list. Devotion of time and superior performance are higher in the minds of these women.

Being a well-rounded candidate

Women who have been out of the workforce for some time are ready for a change and when they make the decision to re-enter an industry, they have an abundance of energy and enthusiasm that someone who has been working in the same role for several years simply cannot manifest. Managing a home and family helps women continually develop social and interpersonal skills needed in most jobs, which presents them as the best option for new hires.

Skeptics also believe women lose touch with business when they start a family, however most women don’t turn a blind eye to their work or industry. They are constantly updated on the industry and their distance from the work itself gives them the advantage of a fresh outlook when they choose to rejoin the workforce.