What sport can teach your business


Sport has written some of the best fairytales and given us some of the most inspiring, heart-stopping moments. What you may not realise is that the build up and preparation to these moments can teach your business some of the most fundamental skills behind leadership, management and motivation that any business needs to succeed.

Leadership and organisation is one of the key elements to running a successful sports team. It will come as no surprise that these skills are perfectly transferrable to the business world, also. Guiding your ‘team’ through times of adversity and giving directions when things seem unclear are all traits that any leader must develop in order to be respected and successful.

Istanbul 2005. Liverpool vs AC Milan in the Champions League Final. One of the most iconic football matches of all time. The outcome of this match was not only inspiring for football fans all over the world, but teaches business an important lesson in the subject of leadership. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool’s captain at the time, lead a fightback in the second half having been 3-0 down, to win Liverpool’s fifth Champions League. Talking to ESPN, Gerrard detailed what it means to be a captain when things aren’t going your way. “When you’re captain, you can’t afford to be down, feel sorry for yourself and mope around. Everyone in this group looks to me to see what mood I’m in, so I have to shake it off quick.”  Leading by example is one of the most important traits for any business owner to have, as it sets the standards for your employees to follow. When you see your staff working as hard as you, then thats when results will flourish.

Focusing on management, you can never underestimate the power of a team. In an article which featured on Business Matters earlier this month, one of the 8 reasons why likeable people succeed is that they leave a strong first impression. As a boss, if you give out an understanding, emphatic tone, you can get your professional relationship off to a perfect start. Put simply, if people like you, they’ll work harder for you. The old adage of “losing the dressing room” is the perfect example as to why it is important to have a good relationship with your office. A tough love approach is sometimes required, but keep your team on your side or you’ll see your performances drop.

The whole ‘team’ concept is very delicate, and at times, incestrious. It is not always possible to create a good first impression with everyone you meet. With your office being a tight knit community, negative feelings can spread quicker than you think. That is why it’s important to target the bad apples of the office. Mario Balotelli, the former Manchester City striker, was a bad apple himself. With frequent appearances in the newspapers and public tiffs with the manager, the City squad was not always a happy one. Following Mario’s arrival, another City striker, Carlos Tevez refused to come on against Bayern Munich and disobeyed orders from the then manager, Roberto Mancini. It is impossible to know whether or not these two events were linked in any way, but when the office isn’t a nice one to be around, unhappy feelings can soon spread. Make an effort to get these ‘bad apples’ on side, before it effects the rest of the bunch.

Finally, for both sport and your business, you need to enjoy what you do. If you enjoy what you do then your work will be of a higher standard. Footballers and Rugby players work hard and display enormous levels of dedication and sacrifice in order to be the best in the world, purely because it’s what they’ve wanted to do ever since they were little. If you don’t enjoy your job then it’s not for you. Find something you enjoy, something that you’re passionate about and then you will start to produce top quality work and be successful. Sport is fun and enjoyable, so from a business perspective, make the office a fun place to be so that your team will want to play.

Charlie Atkinson