What Can We Learn From Sport That Can Help Us As Managers?

There are many ways in which we can refine and develop our managerial abilities – there are many lessons, and commonality, where sport and its constituent parts can help us to become more effective and efficient.

Firstly there are some striking similarities between management and sport which include;

  • Some managers take the job seriously, others just play at it. (You probably know a few of those!).
  • Are we just biding our time, doing just enough or are we an active participant in the managerial process?
  • Is management just a mental process or are there some physical aspects to the job? Management by Walking about v. Desk Based email management?
  • There is always the uncertainty of outcome to consider. Sport shows us that the most unusual outcomes do actually happen, they cannot be predicted, all the resources are available for success but, frustratingly, the results do not turn out how we wanted them to. Just like management!

Sport is very different to Play – there are principles and rules to follow. The managers that “play” at management do not follow such rules and avoid key principles – the LAISSEZ FAIRE MANAGER!

Done properly the “sport” of management has a common understanding of clear and consistent rules and here, results do matter. Like sport however judging the outcomes can be a challenge – are the results we are seeking an objective judgement (fastest goals scored/maximum outputs from the manufacturing process) or are they more subjective (the judge’s scorecards based on the performance seen/customer feedback in qualitative terms)?

As a final thought we can all recognise a number of celebrities that have made the successful transition from a sports background into the commercial world – Will Carling (Captain of the England Rugby Union team being one example running his own consultancy business)and . What unites these successful managers is that they have harnessed and used sporting disciplines and approaches and transplanted them into the management arena.

Perhaps taking note of applicants at interview and exploring their experiences of sport, even if just watching rather than playing, might give you a different perspective as to their abilities and drivers.

Good Luck!