The difference between Business and Sport

added by Craig Steel
Chalk markings of tactics on a playing field

We are often asked about the similarities and differences between business and sport. For those of you who are interested, here’s what we’ve found.




1. They are both ‘people’ focused pursuits

2. They require similar dedication to succeed

3. The results produced in each are determined by those who make up the team




1. Most people in business don’t think like the above but those who do, tend to do best.




The most telling thing we’ve observed in terms of the similarities or differences between business and sport is that business leaders tend to believe the majority of their people lack the focus and commitment to succeed i.e. they see their people going through the motions unlike athletes who they see pushing themselves to the limit.

A question we’ve often asked business leaders is ‘do you think your people are cruising because they don’t care or are they working that way because that’s all they’ve ever been asked to do?'

Interestingly, most leaders say ‘their’ people simply don’t have the drive they think they need to succeed rather than seeing their progress, or lack of, as a result of their leadership.

Make no mistake, without leadership from a coach, athletes can drift like anyone else. However with it, most discover their ability to achieve extraordinary things.

If you want to build a high performing business, you need to look at your people through a similar lens. You have to see your people as the key to your organisation’s success so they understand their relevance to the business. Further to this, you need to define what winning looks like for every person so they can see the target, then equip them with the tools to deliver it.

Regrettably, for no clear reason, businesses assume their people lack the appetite to win so fail to explain what it looks like. As a consequence, they come to believe their performance doesn’t matter to those at the helm and therefore respond accordingly.

If you are serious about performance, you need to engage your people in the idea of winning otherwise they’ve got nothing to strive for. In other words, if you remove the ‘goal posts’, you have to accept there isn’t anything to aim for.

Next time we will look at the levers you can pull if you want to build a true high performing team.


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