Sports & Leadership

Do playing sports help in your development as a leader?

The answer is a resounding: YES

If you are expecting yourself or your child to become a leader just by playing sports for a session or for a year, then you have misplaced expectations.

Participating in sports, whether individual or team, will not give you leadership training in as you would get in a bootcamp aimed solely at making you a leader.

What doing sports will do is to provide you with a brick in the foundation of the house of leadership that you are building within yourself.

It has been suggested that over 95% of fortune 500 CEO’s played sports. Some of the famous names are:

  • Former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb played soccer in college
  • Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan played rugby in college
  • Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook was a fencing star in high school

The statistics is even more remarkable for women executives.

A 2015 study of 400 female C-suite executives found a strong correlation between athletic and business success: 94% of women in the C-suite of CEO, CIO, CFO etc played sports.

In the 2017 Fortune list of Most Powerful Women, 65% women had played sports competitively in either high school and/or college. Some of the famous names are:

  • Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi played cricket in college
  • Kraft Foods CEO Irene Rosenfeld played four varsity sports in high school and college basketball
  • SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro played lacrosse and field hockey in college

Susan Spencer, the first and only woman to work as a General Manager for the Philadelphia Eagles football team, believes it makes no difference what the sport is or even whether the woman is good at it. Sports facilitate competition, giving young women the taste of winning and losing that they may shy away from in their other social groups, Spencer says.

Gender aside, 11 Qualities you will develop from Playing Sports are those of:

1.Grit – When you feel that you are too tired and cannot go on but still have to, it builds grit. Having grit is considered to be the strongest predictor of success.

2. Determination – When you want to get a certain score in the game and keep on pushing yourself to attain that score, you develop determination.

3. Discipline – When you have to attend practices regularly when you would rather be sleeping or having fun with friends, you build discipline.

4. Sportsmanship – When you win some games and lose some, you learn to take your wins and losses in a stride and build sportsmanship.

5. Respect for the coach – When you have to follow the instructions and decisions of the coach, you realize that it’s not about you but about the team, you develop respect for the coach.

6. Respect for the rules of the game – When you realize that the rules of the game will sometimes go in your favor and sometimes against you and all in all are fair, you develop respect for the rules.

7. Empathy & Respect for the opponents – When you realize that your opposing team is in the same frame of mind as you, you develop empathy and respect for them.

8. Teamwork – When you pass on the ball to your team member because it may make your team win a goal rather than trying to be a star by attempting to do it all single-handedly, you develop the quality of teamwork.

9. Confidence and Self-esteem – When you put an effort and score a point, you develop confidence, with a resulting boost in your self-esteem.

10. Mastery over Self – When you make an effort and are able to control your emotions and your body to perform an action that would win you a score, you develop self-control and mastery over self.

11. Self-Worth & Reliability – When you show up to all your practices and games, you realize that your team is counting on you. You develop a sense of self-worth and appreciation for the quality of reliability.

All these qualities you develop when playing sports will not only make you physically and mentally fit, they will also help you in overcoming personal and professional challenges in school and in life.

So what are you waiting for? If you are not already playing sports, start now. You are never too old for it.

References & Suggested Reads:

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