Archive for January, 2012

Where do we see leadership?

Posted on January 24, 2012. Filed under: Leadership and teams, leadership response, personal leadership |



It’s a lovely sunny day as I write this and in the midst of a major sporting tournament.  Funny how this makes me think of where leadership can be seen isn’t it?

Well, there is self leadership – do I work or do I go outside to “play” (well not if you sunburn the way I do – there is no question about avoiding too much sun).  There is also how we manage our health and energy in the heat including keeping well hydrated.

There is also leadership of the self in terms of sport.  Twice over the past two days I have been privileged to attend the event – courtesy of a Christmas gift from a friend – and have seen two players with strong leads lose them (and eventually the match).  How?  It seemed to be a loss of concentration – self leadership in my words – coupled with a strong mindest of the competitor – positive self leadership.

It begs the questiion: how often do we see this in the work environment?

Interestingly I think we see it lots yet rarely comment.  You see I have some alerts set up and well over 95% of the mentions about leadership (as I’ve set up the alert anyway) generate sporting references.  There are very, very few mentions in a work context – and interestingly one of the few was a Forbes magazine article!  So if it is mentioned it is in a very well respected environment!

Wonder why this is?  Do we feel closer affinity with sporting analogies regardless of the country we are in?  I know it has been said that we Aussies really love our sport and respond best to sporting analogies and stories.  Yet even writing and comments on leadership and the effectiveness of teams from across the world seem to comment most often about sport rather than business.

I guess one part of it is access to the information: few organisations or companies would allow jounalists in to their “rooms” in the same way it happens with football and there are rarer interviews after a top three finish in business than there are in cycling or motor racing.  And realistically it would be unlikely – what business wants their commercially sensitive information out there in the public domain?

Potentially I wonder if it is that sport has clearer rules and criteria so it is easy to define when something is a success.  An ace in tennis is clearly an ace, the winner of a Formula 1 race has finished in less time and ahead of the others, a runner crosses the line first, an archer has more points…. and so it goes on.  Managers and leaders have been successful when…….?

So is it that the criteria that define leadership are looser or less well defined?

Is it that there are more variables and external factors in business which make it difficult to directly attribute success and hence to celebrate it?

Is it that we value sporting achievement more than business achievement?

If we’re dealing with people and teams is there really any difference?  What I mean here is that leadership of people is fundamentally the same whether it is a sporting team or individual or a business.  You still need mental toughness.  You still need skill.  You need to understand the rules of  the game.  You still need to celebrate the wins and keep up the motivation.

Hmm so once again I find myself thinking and typing that we see leadership everywhere – it is just whether we recognise it that way or not.

And of course whether the people involved recognise what they are doing well or not doing so well.

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