The Tokyo Olympics are, of course, well under way and we’re all in awe of the host of athletes who are currently flying the flag for their nations with their extraordinary medal-winning performances.
What’s evident is that they must combine their amazing feats of skill and stamina with keeping their cool under pressure, all while meeting extremely high expectations. As it happens, these are also great traits to hone in order to progress your career.
In fact, Dr. Jemma King, who has advised the Australian Olympic swim team, is of the firm belief that, while physical attributes are an essential component for achieving Olympic glory, it’s mental strength that bags the golds.
Understanding how to control your energy and emotions, manage stress and edge out rivals relates as much to the corporate world as to the sporting one, again according to Dr. King, who also works with McKinsey & Co on the business consultancy’s executive leadership programs.
LinkedIn recently conducted a poll asking users the most important skill leaders can learn from Olympic athletes, with options including getting an edge over rivals, knowing how to conquer stress and having a laser focus on goals.
In the comments section, people also flagged the importance of teamwork, overcoming fear, accepting failure and learning humility.
So, what are the top qualities that we can learn from Olympic medallists and translate to the everyday workplace? Let’s take a look.
Understand the value of teamwork
Every athlete who manages to bag a spot on the iconic Olympic podium has reached the position with a team around them. Behind the scenes there will be a group of people who brought together their individual skills, passions and experience in order to collaborate and share in that hallowed moment of triumph.
In a similar way, a great business performance stems from management which doesn't stifle teamwork and the creativity and new ideas which filter through as a result. Within your organisation, it is just as important to acknowledge individual strengths and contributions as it is those of the wider team, ensuring everyone gets their share of the recognition and glory.
The need to succeed
Having an ambition to become the best in the world at a given discipline represents a long and arduous journey which will be filled with highs and lows. Although Olympians may thrive on the threat of their competitors, they also share with them the passion and desire to achieve their dreams with abject determination.
In the business world, having clear objectives and an end goal or strategy is key to providing the focal point for success. You’ll also need a combination of psychological and physical strength to achieve them, without losing sight of precisely what it is you want.
Clear communication skills
The Olympics provides jobs for hundreds of thousands of people globally and, as with any organisation, plenty can go wrong at the drop of a hat when so many plates are simultaneously spinning. However, this potential problem can be averted through consistent communication across all levels and departments.
At the heart of every successful business sits leaders who communicate their vision, mission and values effectively to instil trust in their teams and get the most out of their workforce.
Preparation is essential
For an Olympian, the approach to their dedicated event’s starting point is one they’ll remember forever. This is because it represents the culmination of years of hard work and training, where their skills will be put to the test for all of the world to see. However, Olympic athletes are well-equipped to deal with this moment as they will be not only physically prepared, but mentally ready too.
Such preparation is vital in business too; from delivering presentations to strategic planning and forecasting for the year ahead.
Be ready to work hard
It’s all very well having a strong mindset, alongside the right skills and preparation, but ultimately, you need to work hard and be the best version of yourself to succeed. Just like athletes have to train on a daily basis, so does a good business leader need to undertake their own learning and development pathway to keep ahead of the curve. They can supplement this by boning up on everything they need to know about their industry, all while making the effort to keep abreast of the latest sector developments and insights.
Find the right balance
This year’s Olympics has showcased the importance of looking after yourself outside of the arena in order to perform at your best inside it. With the likes of Simone Biles and Adam Peaty taking breaks from their crafts to focus on their mental health, it is clearer now more than ever that “mental health matters and it is about getting the balance right”.
In the everyday workplace, this means clocking off on time when you need to, closing down those emails outside of work, taking regular breaks to refresh your mindset and whatever else you may need to do to ensure that, when you are in work, you’re functioning at your best.
If you would like to discuss this, or any of the topics covered in our articles, please get in touch.