Learning from the world of sport

It is often a cliché that we will think outside of the box?

But do we need to open to learning from others to do so?

It is said that whether we are current or emerging leaders, that we should never stop learning or trying to improve. This begs the question whether we can look elsewhere for invaluable lessons we can apply to make business successful.

Sports and business, seemingly disparate realms, share a surprising array of parallels that can offer invaluable insights for achieving success. The world of sports offers a rich tapestry of lessons that can be applied to the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of business. Of course, there are the obvious learnings we can take like teamwork and collaboration, leadership and motivation, resilience, and perseverance, but are there deeper learnings we can take from the world of sport?

In the world of elite sport there is a much greater focus on preparation than there is in business world, despite companies telling us they know how important preparation is. Around 90% of an elite athlete’s time is spent preparing and just 10% of their time just doing the job.

Of course, this could not be replicable in the world of business, but is there too much of an obsession with ‘doing’ in the business world at the loss of understanding and planning?

In business, a lot of time is also spent working out what went wrong and what doesn’t seem to work or be successful; sport is the opposite of this. In elite sport, there is a major focus on understanding what makes someone good at what they do, how they can become even better and how others in the team can learn their skills from them. Would businesses benefit from positively analysing like elite sport? This could mean having regular team meetings that focus on the achievements and targets which have been successfully met. By building on the positives, it can help to engage the brain and put your team in a positive mindset, setting them up for the day ahead. The worst we could do, is wait until something goes wrong or you ‘lose something’, to call a team meeting, instead we should focus on every win and discuss what can be taken home from the success, after all, positivity breeds positivity. There is also a tendency for businesses to focus on operations and costs, whereas in elite sport the focus is on being better with a strong desire to win and an overarching performance-driven mindset. Do companies stifle top performances from their employees by focusing on other avenues of the business more heavily?

Undoubtedly, the world of elite sport does not lack passion and dedication. These two characteristics alone end up being a strong driving force when they go through setbacks and difficult times. Like sport, all businesses will go through setbacks too, so focusing on cultivating a passionate and dedicated company culture can inspire employees to go above and beyond in their roles. If the feeling of passion and dedication is missing, should we ask ourselves what cultural changes can be made to make the team of employees as devoted as a professional sports team would be?

One of the most meaningful and powerful aspects of elite sport, is the focus is always on being the 1% better today than you were yesterday. If you are not focusing on improving and being better, you are no doubt going to lose to someone who has had this as their primary focus. Why should this focus be any different in the world of business?

EP is proud to work with a number of leading sporting talents who want to help support emerging talent. We are striving to create new frameworks which serve business better. Is this a discussion you would enjoy being involved in? After all, hospitality too is about a desire for excellence, for striving for consistent improvement.

Written by Izzy McHattie, EP Business in Hospitality