Rio 2016: Gold Medal Lessons for Business Leaders

As the Rio Summer Olympics have now come to a close and will disappear until Tokyo 2020, it is a good time to reflect on what businesses of all shapes and sizes across the globe can learn from the plethora of athletic achievements.

When you watch athletes like Serena Williams, Michael Phelps or Joseph Schooling you can see the grit, passion and sheer determination that is deep within them. In a recent post I wrote for Minutehack, I explained that, as human-beings, we live the “Olympic experience” on a daily basis – in both our personal and professional lives. Here are some gold medal lessons that can be applied to business leadership:

1. Plan to achieve your vision and turn your dreams into reality


There have been a number of inspirational stories at Rio 2016 from athletes about facing hardship, from poverty-stricken backgrounds to life-threatening illness, and dreaming their way out of it by putting their vision into action. Just as Olympians can’t rely on pure talent, businesses can’t just rely on a “big idea”, or past profitability or a talented CEO. They need a holistic strategy of the entire organization to ensure it constantly moves in the right direction, despite setbacks that may occur along the way.

2. Be Agile, Adapt and Achieve


While it’s necessary to have a plan in place and live by it as much as possible, it’s also crucial that Olympians aren’t too regimental in their thinking and adapt to different circumstances. Not everything is in an Olympian’s control, which is the same with business – whether it’s facing external changes, like a new Government regulations, or internal, like a new management team. Whatever the change, the real winners are those that can adjust to the current situation in a quick and efficient way. Those that stand still, will be left behind.

3. Listening can make you a better leader


Champions often express that they couldn’t have succeeded without their coach. Advice is increasingly scientific with sophisticated data analysis techniques that can eke out competitive advantage the naked eye doesn’t necessarily see. Likewise, businesses benefit significantly from an experienced, external eye in the form of a coach or mentor, as well as insight in the form of performance metrics.

There is something awe-inspiring about The Olympic Games. It brings together countries and encourages us to to support our teams. All performances are motivating, but moreover, the attitudes towards performance are what are truly inspiring. The motto of the Olympic movement is Citius, Altius, Fortius, which means: Faster, Higher, Stronger. Not Fastest, Highest, Strongest, mind you. The focus is on the progression, not always the end goal. A valuable lesson for both Olympians and businesses across the world.

You can view the full Minutehack article, here.