Sports are a popular and easy-access way to reduce stress, get your fill of fresh air, and socialize outside of work.
But did you know that you can learn important leadership skills from playing sports? If you just open your mind to the lessons there are to be learned, it’s easy to see how being a good sportsperson can translate to being a good business leader.
Here are 5 leadership skills you can learn from sports that could put you in the running for that promotion!
Sports aren’t predictable. You never know what conditions will be like on the day, how your game plan will go, or what your opponent has in store. The truth is, things won’t always fall into place for you on the field, course, or court.
A large part of success is being disciplined enough to keep going when you’re feeling beaten down. The same is true in business.
You don’t know what the day has in store for you when you walk through those doors. But whatever work throws at you, you have to deal with it and come back stronger.
Leadership Takeaway: Things won’t always go your way. Push through anyway.
Imagine none of the members of a soccer team discussed their game plan before hitting the field. They may make some good moves, but they’d be far less effective out there with every team member doing their own thing.
But when they’re communicating, from start to finish, their game plan flows smoothly into action, and they work like a well-oiled machine.
Sports teams and business teams are aiming for the same thing—to achieve a goal. Whether that’s putting the ball in the back of the net or hitting that project deadline, everything works better when every team member knows exactly what their role is.
Leadership Takeaway: Effective communication can enhance success.
Agility and Adaptability
Being light on your feet is essential to most sports. It enables you to reach the ball, duck out of the way, or avoid falling over and wasting precious seconds regaining your footing.
In business, being agile means being able to adapt quickly when needed. Having a plan, communicating, and being disciplined is important. But being able to move with the situation and change your position if needed is a necessary skill.
Understanding your industry and having a comprehensive strategy can help you become agile enough to adapt on the go.
Leadership Takeaway: Being able to think on your feet is essential.
No team or individual sports person sets foot on the ground without doing their homework first. A golfer would check out the course, so they knows where to expect bunkers. A tennis player would research their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
You can’t form an effective strategy if you don’t know what you’re up against. Planning ahead can save you valuable time and energy in the moment—not just in sports, but as a leader, too.
Leadership Takeaway: Failing to prepare will put you on the back foot from the start.
Honesty and Integrity
Talent is only one part of being a good sportsperson. The other, perhaps less thought-of, part is good sportsmanship.
Integrity may not always get you what you want at the moment. Admitting that you nicked the ball on the way through to the keeper or making the best attempt to chip your ball out of the bunker instead of sneaking it out onto the grass might seem counterproductive.
But cheating—in sports and business or leadership—only cheats one out of the opportunity to improve and learn. Integrity involves taking ownership of your mistakes and using them as a springboard for higher success.
Leadership Takeaway: Honesty is the best foundation for business (and sporting) principles.
Supercharge Your Business Skills
A large part of playing sports is about enjoyment, stepping away from the workplace and everyday life, and working toward a goal.
But if you’re planning on gaining some new workplace skills, leveling up your business game, and working on your career enhancement, you can use your sporting sessions to learn leadership lessons.
It’s all about your mindset. With just a bit of mental work, you can use your everyday sports experiences to supercharge your business skills.