Oppeus International Correlation between Leadership and Team Sport

By Kelley Reynard

What do you believe to be the most important capability for a team to win games? Is it the technical ability of each individual player, their kicking style, their capacity to handball, and their shot on goal; or is it the ability for the leadership group to inspire and influence their team mates and give their blood, sweat, and tears when they cross that white line? This is a very interesting topic of discussion, and one that is talked about among many sporting fans in the office on a Monday morning.

Think about Tom Harley the former AFL Geelong Football Club captain. He wasn’t necessarily the best player with the most talent and technical capability, however his presence on the field and his ability to inspire and influence the players around him is what he will be remembered for most. Was it his time at the Geelong Football Club and the environment he was exposed to that developed his leadership skills? Or was Tom’s leadership ability innate, and something that came with him to the club? You could really argue both. However, Jordan Spindler, freelance writer and avid fitness enthusiast, attributes team participation as more important than the physical component to truly stand out as a leader.

He puts forward that competition is one of the bases that produces leadership because of its motivating factor in human psychology. Being able to motivate others to achieve goals is one of the traits of leadership, and competitive team sport creates an environment where people have to work together to achieve their goals. Spindler articulates that an important part of leadership in sport is listening to other people and understanding their points of view; and if the captain cannot play for the team, he cannot expect to lead it.

When you cast your mind to the business environment, the principles of leadership and team sport play out with co-workers and competing businesses that leaders must face in the world. If you think about the best leader you have ever worked for, what were the traits they possessed? What were they good at doing? I bet they were great at motivating you, inspiring you, and encouraging you to be the best you can be. They supported you to build on your skills and knowledge and continue improving in your work. They were a team player; someone concerned for everybody’s welfare and performance, someone who created tremendous value for the business, and someone who people wanted to work for.

There is no doubt that the pendulum needs to swing both ways between technical prowess and leadership capability; but hopefully this post will give you something to think about when observing the behaviour of a team and their performance at that next football match or soccer game.

If you would like to read more about the analogy between leadership and team sport and leadership in the business environment, please click the following link http://leadonpurposeblog.com/2013/04/20/why-sports-builds-leadership/