Article: How organizations are drawing lessons from sports into people development

Learning & Development

How organizations are drawing lessons from sports into people development

In baseball and in business, there are three types of people. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those wonder what happened.
How organizations are drawing lessons from sports into people development

Some weeks ago, the Indian Women’s Hockey team rose like a phoenix during the Tokyo Olympics and garnered international accolades for their stupendous performance. Their coach inspired them to create a miracle by screening a motivational sports film. As I read this, I was reminded of a vital truth: There are few things more powerful, than united people.

No wonder that business leaders and organizations are drawing important life and organizational lessons from sports team management for their people development.  Besides engaging people outdoors for a closer bonding, work ethic, time management, leadership sports imparts skills that are relevant, lifelong. These learnings led us at GUS to curate a unique Learn Evolve Achieve Perform (LEAP) program which aims to nurture our young managers as future leaders and changemakers in roles with higher responsibility. Lessons from sports, digital transformations, design thinking, futuristic life and workplace skills are a part of this transformational offering. Our sports segment focuses on lessons from inspirational sports films, ethics, team building, goal setting, discipline, embracing failures and more. 

Besides these, sports is sparking some interesting conversations around people development:

What business leaders can learn from Head Coaches

A team that communicates transparently, trusts each other, works together, embraces diversity, success and failures with equanimity can create magic. Like a coach, every leader knows that successful teams get better with practice and where everyone is willing to be a forever-learner, grow together and continue to be innovative. American Football Quarterback Brett Favre makes a significant point in this context: Most talented players don’t always succeed. Some don’t even make the team. It’s more what’s inside. 

Profits or People-In one of my favorite films, Jerry McGuire

the lead character Jerry realises after some self-reflection that in an effort to net maximum profits, he’s forgotten simple pleasures of helping his players in tough and happy ties, the sound in stadium when his player does well. As a final solution, he chooses to prioritize and care more for his audience and players, rather than profits. Similarly, leaders must genuinely care about the well-being of their people, as happier teams give outstanding results.

Organizational Skills and Strategic Development

  Cohesive teams that brainstorm, argue, catalyze and inspire each other to make individual contributions that lead to realisation of business goals-as a team-are most impactful. Everyone has equal room to strategize and develop game plans with clear communication and an end result in the mind.

Winning and Losing

These are a part of the same coin and a vital learning too--as despite our best efforts there will be times, we will lose so how do we balance both success and failure? Embrace every failure as a learning opportunity and success is a team effort achieved by connecting all the dots in the process. In the end, it’s not about an individual alone but it’s the collective power of every person. It also makes teams more flexible, sportsman-like in embracing both sides of coin.

Work ethics, discipline and hard work

There are no shortcuts to growth and success either in the field or in the workplace. It takes a lot of hard work, staunch work ethic and stringent discipline to accomplish goals and sometimes, even set records. This may be very old-school, but it is still very much relevant. A team that collaborates, plans and carries out each function in a disciplined manner is sure to win any challenge. On the flip side, if there is a hitch the same formula works in surmounting challenges. 

Process Orientation 

In today’s fast paced world, it’s very difficult to multi-task and ensure that nothing is missed. Winning in sports does not happen without a process being in place – exercise, practice, reflection are the key elements that take every team ahead whether in the stadium or in an organization. It’s important to take a pause, reflect and re-evaluate things before moving forward with any process. 

Sports is about competition, triumph, life learning and most importantly it’s about having fun on a journey of self-discovery. Tennis Ace Arthur Ash has summed up the ultimate learning from field to workplaces in this quote: You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.

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Topics: Learning & Development, Sports, Books & Movies, #GuestArticle

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