Every business needs leaders. Businesses don’t grow from anything—growth is the product of dedicated, determined leaders who push their teams to greater heights. No matter how big or small your company is, it needs leaders who can handle complex challenges in the workplace, drive innovation and creativity amongst their team members, and cultivate a positive, thriving workplace culture.
Many of these leadership skills are fostered at a young age, and sport has a large part to play in them. Kids who play sports are more likely to develop these skills, and they can make the biggest difference in a successful career… And to your own business success, whether you have 5 employees or 50.
Why Are Leadership Skills Learned From Sports Important?
Playing sports offers a unique chance to develop leadership skills that transfer over into the business world as well as the sports arena. Here’s why they’re important.
It Provides Opportunities to Be Motivating
If your team is behind on points, you need that one person who can drum up enthusiasm and determination in the team, rally them together, and move forward to get things done.
The same goes for the office. You need people who can rally the team together and inspire them to push through, even when times are tough. Genuine motivation can be difficult to come by, especially motivation that isn’t fear-based. The best managers are those who can inspire their team to reach greater heights in a positive, uplifting way.
Develops Networking Skills
Whether you’re bonding with teammates, working with a coach, or meeting the opposition, your people skills are being strengthened. The sport also teaches you a certain respect for others, no matter who they may be or what their background is.
This is an excellent basis for networking. The same concept applies to building relationships with colleagues, working with managers, and meeting prospects or competition. Within each interaction is a lesson to be learned.
Fosters a Competitive Spirit
A competitive spirit is more important than you may think. You won’t be a great sportsperson if you have no sense of competition—you need that drive to push through and win.
Part of that drive is a willingness to take risks to get what you want, a determination to constantly improve so you’re ahead of your competition, and a drive to stand out. Great in sports, great in business!
Nobody can be a great leader—or a great sportsperson—without self-discipline. You need to be able to take the initiative when it comes to getting stuff done, improving, and ticking boxes in order to reach a goal.
Whether you’re in the office or on the sports field, self-discipline is a key ingredient to help you get ahead. In every sport—and business—you start out as a beginner, learning how to play the game and working your way up.
Whatever your end goal is—be it a promotion or achieving a new personal best in your sport—self-discipline is vital.
There’s a lot of personal development in sports too. You need to be able to handle challenges with dignity and strength, learn from your mistakes—and forgive others for theirs—and strive to perform at your best.
From these experiences come resilience and a quiet self-confidence that translates into the business world just as well.
Leadership Skills Learned From Sports
So, now we know that leadership skills learned from sports are invaluable. But what are these skills, and what do they mean? Here are some of the most sought-after “soft skills” that sports can teach.
There are two parts to this. One is being able to recognize when your own emotions are affecting your performance in a negative way and regulate them so you can move forward more rationally. Two, being able to analyze others and pick up on their emotional state from non-verbal cues.
Agility and Adaptability
The business world doesn’t stand still. Whether it’s a new client, a new software, or a new industry-wide innovation, you need to be agile and adaptable—able to move with the changes and make changes accordingly. Those who can adapt to new ways of working will flourish in an ever-changing business environment.
Discrimination and judgment have no place in leadership. Leaders need to be able to cut out everything but the necessary information. In sports, that means putting aside any differences and selecting that guy who’s really good, even if you don’t like him or disagree with his principles. The same is true in the workplace.
Leaders need to think outside of the box. If something isn’t working, they find a new, creative way to try it. Strategy is a key element in both sports—for example, golf requires you to choose the right club and approach on each shot—and business if you want to get ahead and outsmart the competition.
Communication and Collaboration
Nothing team-related works well if there isn’t good communication between members. It doesn’t always have to be verbal, either, but communicating things effectively and collaborating with others always gets the job done faster.
How Can Companies Benefit From These Skills?
The truth is, companies benefit hugely when their employees have these leadership skills. Here’s how:
- Improved Team Performance: Strong leaders bring teams together. When everyone’s on the same page, it leads to increased productivity, smoother collaboration, and a more efficient “conveyor belt” of activity. This can lead to an increased ROI.
- Reduced Turnover: Engaged, motivated, driven leaders to inspire their team members to be the best they can be. In an environment of motivation, team members are more likely to commit to improving themselves and their skills, building a stable foundation at the company rather than jumping ship.
- Better Risk Management: Those with strong leadership skills are often better equipped to handle conflict, respond to incidents, and manage risks. In turn, the company becomes more resilient in an ever-changing climate, strengthening the business over time.
- Improved Employee Satisfaction: Those who feel challenged and like they’re a valuable part of the company are more likely to demonstrate a high level of employee satisfaction. This promotes a positive company culture, contributes to a good retention rate, and promotes productivity.
- Enhanced Workplace Culture: Strong leaders understand that work isn’t all about pushing people to perform. They know that a positive workplace culture improves employee mood, increases work, and fosters an atmosphere of optimism—all of which make it an enjoyable place to work and attracts top talent to the company.
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website, Golf Influence.