Do we need an offside rule in business?

A player is in an offside position if any of their body parts except the hands and arms is in the opponents’ half of the pitch and closer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.”

It can confuse, anger and delight in the game of football but it’s a rule which most people who follow the sport are very much aware of. It’s designed to stop teams gaining an unfair advantage and whilst there are a few grey areas (a player not actively involved in play being one) it’s simple to see how it works. As many business leaders point to a lack of trust in the workplace, do companies need a sporting framework to bring a level of conviction seen in successful sporting teams?

Sports players possess many leading qualities which can transfer quite easily into the business world. When one meets a player of just about any sport, they are often met with someone who oozes confidence, resilience and determination. Qualities which, when meeting someone from the business world who also possess them, can sometimes be married with big egos. Why does this happen? A sports player has crowds of support but can keep their feet on the ground, is this due to a series of rules and regulations in the sport they play? Does this safety net of sorts framework allow them to be free enough to create and win but also act as a positive barrier of support? Their skills and experiences can benefit a workplace environment because they are able to work as a team and get the best out of each other. Even those in single sports have coaches, dieticians and others around them and all must work together. The F1 driver may win the plaudits but without the pit crew, they don’t stand a chance.

When applying the offside rule in the business world, the more obvious correlation is setting it within the workforce, rather than externally. Employees, who hopefully are a team, cannot break free to win something, without the support of those around them. If they were to attempt this, they would quickly learn that you cannot do certain things as a silo. The expression “No man is an island” comes to mind, without a strong culture around them and a community, one cannot thrive.

“There is no full-time whistle in business but perhaps some of the lessons from the sporting world can be adopted.”

To be successful in sport you need to have trust and this is true in businesses up and down the country and across the world. Without this, expect poor customer service, low employee satisfaction, declining repeat business and a lack of loyalty. There are heaps of stats and research on this topic but in truth everyone is aware of it. Ask most people and they will have a negative example of something which has happened to them and occasionally a positive example. The big question on this area is how do businesses-build trust and in turn create cultures which people aspire to work in and remain in. It may just help counter some of the changes linked to the gig economy. Whilst in principle this works well, nothing beats an old-fashioned relationship between colleagues and ideally friendship too and that’s difficult to achieve when everyone is working in short bursts or is remote.

Many are asking if a lack of trust in the workplace impacts the bottom line. It’s seems logical that demotivated employees are less productive and therefore have an effect, add in the worrying research which argues 1 in 4 will suffer from a mental health illness and it’s painting a tough picture.

Its extreme to suggest businesses needs rules and regulations to thrive and be successful but why not bring a sports player into the team so they can have a positive impact. Their skills and abilities can be taught, and they can have an influence on the culture of a workforce for the benefit of the business. If a business was to bring them for say one day a week, imagine what impact a rugby, football, golf, cricket, swimming, athletics sports player could have?

There is a growing need to support people, to ensure talent is nurtured and retained, but that isn’t always possible in today’s busy world. The workforce environment has gone through and continues to go through change. Its difficult for those within to recognise the need to get out and about to gain knowledge, advice and experience elsewhere. EP recently created the Emerging Leaders Club for this very purpose. Its for those who want and need to share knowledge, connect with others, gain insight from a range of business leaders and meet others who are facing similar challenges. Its informal, relaxed and built on long-term trusting relationships. It includes an attractive benefits package which includes discounts for all sorts of things – travel, home, insurance and more.

There is no full-time whistle in business but perhaps some of the lessons from the sporting world can be adopted. It may just create some stronger trust and in turn cultures and teams which are simply happier and more productive.