Why Athletes are Perceived as Resilient Leaders
According to magazine, 95% of Fortune 500 CEO’s played college sports. These former student athletes bring leadership skills, honed from the playing field, to the workplace. Their training has conditioned them to recognize the importance of teamwork and setting goals as well as dealing with conflict and adversity. The story below shows how four companies navigated disruption. Some navigated the challenges well while others are on a redemption path. As you scroll through, make sure to take note of Pasquale De Tursi’s words of wisdom.
“Football is also the school of life. It teaches you about hard work and being mindful of your surroundings.” — Jérôme Traveller
“The times when you feel like you’ve got nothing more, the times when you feel like you’ve been defeated, and even the times when you feel like you’ve achieved something, that’s when you got to put your foot on the pedal and keep pushing.” — Spencer Baucke, Cofounder of #SportsVizSundays
“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” — John Wooden
“I like to score goals but I also like to have friends among the people I have played with.” — Lionel Messi
“Sometimes it’s worth risking it all for a dream only you can see.” — Megan Rapinoe
“Mamba Mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most” — Kobe Bryant
“If there is one thing in this planet that has the power to bind people it is soccer.” — Nelson Mandela
“Football is a beautiful game because it’s a universal language. No matter where you’re from, what language you speak, or your ethnicity, it unites people and creates meaningful connections.” — Jérôme Traveller
“Always work hard, never give up, and fight until the end because it’s never really over until the whistle blows.” — Alex Morgan
The Playing Field is Changing
I brought the question of sports and leadership to a business intelligence user group. Immediately, a colleague lamented over why our society looks to sports figures to describe drive, ambition and teamwork. She countered, “Why are we not looking for scientists and academics that espouse these values?”
My colleague brings up a good point. All of the companies in this story leveraged data to move their goals forward. Each of these companies developed algorithms to understand their customers’ behavior from what movie to place in queue to how they will react going 60MPH in a self driving car. Having these insights are crucial. How they get executed upon is vital.
Athletes are driven by competition — they envision their goals. CEO’s do the same thing — they have a strong vision that is outward facing and has the consumer in mind. Data people have always been in the background honing their expertise. Today’s data leaders must have a strong combination of business acumen and data expertise. Now is the time to take a page from sports driven reverie and wrap data insights with storytelling to shine in the same manner as business leaders. There is more opportunity to control the narrative.
“I’ve noticed that good leaders tend to speak at all levels of the organization and can create a feeling that they see you even if they know nothing about what you do. At the end of the day we all just want to be seen.” — Rene Villa, Analytics Manager
“The best athlete wants his opponent at his best.
The best general enters the mind of his enemy.
The best businessman (or woman — my edit) serves the communal good.
The best leader follows the will of the people.
All of them embody the virtue of non-competition.
Not that they don’t love to compete, but they do it in the spirit of play.
In this they are like children and in harmony with the Tao.”
— Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu