July 14, 2012

Lessons from Sport. What are the transferrable skills to business?

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The title and thoughts for this came about after attending an event, which involved an International Rugby 7's player addressing various business leaders on skills that are transferrable from sport to business.

It was an enjoyable evening and stimulated some interesting discussion and gave rise to a number of questions on the theme for the night.

[caption id="attachment_1100" align="alignleft" width="300"]

An open an honest environment in a sports team improves performance.

An open an honest environment in a sports team improves performance.[/caption]

The presentation was based around Goal Setting, individual and team, and how this athlete has applied it throughout his career to allow him to represent his country on a world stage in a sport that gets ever more popular and physically demanding, and is only going to continue on its upward trend as a result of its appearance in the upcoming Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

The content was certainly well delivered, interesting and thought provoking, however, coming from a sporting background as a player and coach, it didn't feel ground breaking.

What was even more interesting was the type of questioning it stimulated as a result, which the presenter dealt with excellently. It appeared that although not a new concept, goal setting in a team environment didn't arouse the same positive feelings that the presenter alluded to in his experience for those involved in business.

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Can the same principles be applied in the boardroom?

Can the same principles be applied in the boardroom?[/caption]

There was also discussion on creating an open and honest environment within the current team, and how this is having a huge impact on their performance. However, those involved in business didn't think the prospect of their sales team, for example, sharing objectives and being engaged in some peer assessment, even if it was for the greater good of the organisation would be a particularly positive experience.

This was pretty much the topic of conversation for Mark and myself on our way home. We clearly understand the differences between the setup of a business and a sports team, but wondered how the idea of working towards a common goal can be achieved in an 'office' environment.

So, here is the quandary, in order for a sports team to improve performance, it is widely accepted that the individual components of that team (the players), need to improve their own skill set. However, all the while they are under the scrutiny of their teammates who will both identify weaknesses and encourage them to improve on those weaknesses for the better of the team.

Therefore, is it feasible to encourage and implement this approach to business, where individuals publicly highlight both positive and negative aspects of their colleagues performance to help them improve. And if so, how would you implement this?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this or any other transferrable skills, and if you have seen any crossover in your working life.

Andy