Professional Athletes

Published: 9th July

95% of Fortune 500 executives participated in high school athletics. They have always been about the business of Winning. But what sets them apart?

1: Teamwork

These men and women don’t just preach teamwork.  They practice it.  A sports team is like a jazz band; integration is necessary to gather a coherent whole, but everybody gets the chance to shine.  There might be a “most valuable player,” but he or she is first among equals.  Everybody has to do the job or no one gets a ring or trophy.  More than ever, modern organizations need the cross-functionality team sports can supply.

2: Appreciating Followership

Professional athletes appreciate followership.  “Follow the leader” is not just a playground game.  It’s an experience in serving greater purpose.  Athletes understand the tangible advantages of executing a plan.  Their very goal achievement is contingent upon following well and truly.  Leading is rooted in having learned the lessons of following.

3: Cognitively Complex

They are cognitively complex.  They grasp the dynamic flow of many inter-related variables, simultaneously played.  As any fan will attest, the strategic machinations of a successful franchise are convoluted and complex.  The plays themselves have intricacies upon intricacies. One’s wits are challenged with hundreds of unpredictable factors that require seamless adaptation and improvisation.  This kind of thinking stands up to today’s fast-moving environment.

4: Ability to Handle Pressure

Professional athletes know what it’s like to work under pressure.  There are enormous stakes.  A lot of people are watching.  The investment in time, talent, money, and reputation is ever-present.  They have to check anxieties and injuries at the door to stay calm, cool, and collected.  If one player loses his or her composure, the efforts of the rest are squandered. Nothing’s more valued in today’s stressful business climate than a level head.

This ability to handle pressure can mean athletes are suited to highly stressful and complex jobs.  For instance in Mark De Rond’s book “There is an I in Team” he demonstrates how sports can shape business acumen in a positive way:

Sport over Academics

“A recent survey of a hundred randomly selected CEOs of the UK’s five hundred largest companies found that 46% of the CEOs had won awards for their athletic prowess (by comparison, only 23% had accumulated awards for academic achievement).   71% believed that compulsory sports at school shaped their business acumen in a positive way.”

In our upcoming Inspired Leaders event “The Business of Winning” taking place on Tuesday 14th July at Hult International Business School, we will hear from our esteemed panel regarding what it takes to make it in the Motorsport Industry, why teamwork is so important and what leadership means to them.  Click here to register now and avoid disappointment.

Back to blog