Olympians and Leadership Lessons

Female Leaders

Sports and leadership have so much in common, as do leadership and sports?

Kirsti Yamaguchi could not have put the point across more succinctly.  To be successful in any sports, whether on ice, on snow, in water, on a track or field, focus is required to keep your goal in mind, and in vision at all times.  Sport is a passion as is effective leadership.  The “why” in Why I do this?

Setting clear and measurable goals is essential for individual sports men and women as well as for teams.  Is this different for any leader?  He or she needs to know and be passionate about the goal and be able to inspire others to share that same passion.

In sport and in leadership, there are times when discipline and hard work are essential to produce that extra bit more, that bit you didn’t think was possible when the odds appear against you.  Does this happen in business sometimes? Perhaps external or internal circumstances change, putting pressure on how to achieve the goal under changing circumstances, as well as on the leader to find the way to inspire the team to produce synergy to achieve what appears to be the unachievable.  To avoid giving up by finding that bit extra.

As Mark Phelps, the Olympic Swimmer once said “Goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time.” Setting clear and “smart” goals is essential to creating that sense of challenge and focus that we all work towards and celebrate once achieved.

Celebration and sharing the glory of goals achieved with a team is a genuine opportunity to provide positive feedback on performance, it is a genuine opportunity to support and encourage during the process and an essential characteristic of an inspirational leader.

Successful sports people, and effective leaders, whether male or female share the importance of self leadership.  Respecting oneself through honouring mind, body and spirit, Eating responsibly to ensure the body and mind are nourished and ready for challenge.  Ever considered if fast foods, snacks, caffeine, energy drinks and processed foods are up to the job?

Sportsmen and women naturally exercise to train their body.  No Olympian ever succeeded without training both the body and mind to rise to the physical and mental challenge of competing. Do leaders have a duty to themselves firstly and to their followers and company secondly to maintain a healthy level of physical as well as mental stamina?

The last part of the equation shared by sports people and leaders is adequate sleep to keep the mind and body alert to make those last second and important decisions that make all the difference to performance.


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