What can businesses do to help in the development of tomorrow’s leaders?

In 2018 and 2019, EP ran a campaign to promote the lessons which business can learn from sport. At the time, a number of CEOs were genuinely interested in how this could be developed but structural issues understandably often came in the way.

However, many of the themes which did attract interest are almost even more relevant today.

It is not just communications and team culture – both of which are naturally important and were under invested in for many years but far more, how individuals can learn to deal with pressure and make the right decisions in moments of stress.

This can not be underrated as all the analysis has shown that far too many people have struggled with stress in workplaces and have felt anxiety in decision making. It is no coincidence that as business has become more controlled, so fewer have felt comfortable with taking risk and making decisions.

Business has never been more sophisticated and yet somehow it has served to make people feel more vulnerable? How can this be reversed?

All business has changed so much over the past fourteen to fifteen years. Hardly anyone ever talks about having fun in the workplace; it is almost as if it is banned but if one can enjoy work, have a passion for work, how does one truly provide great service and see new ideas and innovation come to the fore?

This is where there is a constructive discussion which can take place between sport and business. Of course, the two are very different disciplines but the components for success are often the same. So many England teams have long been criticised for not playing freely; for struggling with the pressure of representing England or with the way the teams play. One of the great features of the Women’s team has been the greater freedom with which they seem to play. Why is this?

The question remains as to how can one free up mind-sets?

There is a great old story that the great All Blacks team which struggled to win the World Cup found the key to success through a number of factors:

  • Ensuring that all their players were exposed to outside social and business interests. By seeing other challenges and learnings, they were able to develop their own understanding. It has long been a belief that the development of leaders requires each to see the good and bad of life so that they can develop their perspective and own thoughts. The more independent a person can think, the more leadership potential emerges. One of the pieces which EP promotes is the need for aspiring leaders to get more involved in social purpose as it builds perspective and understanding.
  • Ensuring fun in the team and game. Their logic was that if you cant enjoy playing, you cant be productive. It is so obvious and yet somehow this element has been lost. How can be rediscovered? So many great leaders will talk openly about the fun they have had in their careers. It has been an essential quality in their development and needs to be for the future.
  • Communication. All the research will show that talent is lost not because they are not developed but because they are rarely engaged on a personal level. In simple terms, leaders themselves are so stretched that they have found it hard to give time. It is no coincidence that there are so many courses to help leaders cope better as over 60% feel out of their dept.

It is not a good starting point so once again, the question needs to be asked as to how this can be improved?