Companies that wish to thrive and find leadership material should look for candidates with sports backgrounds. This is why.
Sport is a powerful vehicle to foster gender equality and empower women and girls. One of the key missions of the International Olympic committee, national Olympic committees, associations, and international and national federations are to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels based on the principle of gender equality. Women para/athletes and Olympians can serve as inspirational role models for young girls around the world.”
Sports experience helps young female leaders rise. The foundation laid by sports participation is critical to women’s success in their careers.
The most recent UN report points out that “the participation of women and girls in sports challenges gender stereotypes and discrimination, and can therefore be a vehicle to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In particular, women in sport leadership can shape attitudes towards women’s capabilities as leaders and decision-makers, especially in traditionally male domains.
Here's where it gets interesting for business: Sports backgrounds can also help corporate leaders C-suite leaders succeed. When they enter the boardroom, women athletes have a unique advantage. In addition to the strong work ethic, determination, and team spirit fostered by their time on the playing field, they thrive on competition, which C-suite women who were polled an Ernst & Young research noted was a bigger factor in their careers than did more junior women. Business leaders need to understand the direct relationship between athletics and careers and to partner with the athletic departments of universities to identify high-potential candidates, much as they do with finance, accounting, or business departments. Companies must also develop policies specifically targeted toward identifying and recruiting athletes early on.
Sportsmanship and leadership go hand in hand. A good leader believes that success can only come with great teamwork --- an important aspect we see in sports. They will always nurture employees to bring out the best in them, just as a good coach does for athletes. To help a business flourish, everyone must work together.
Sports teach grit, perseverance, and the determination to learn from failures and get back up on your feet. Sports teaches us to grit our teeth and not give up until we succeed. That’s what fuels a successful business too --- a leader who learns from mistakes but never gives up.
That means a business that wishes to thrive needs to look into the pool of talented women in sports for the next wave of good leaders, managers, and C-suite minds.