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BlogWhat business leaders can learn from sport

What business leaders can learn from sport

The defining values of sport and business are similar in several ways. Striving for success is a common goal in both settings and getting to that point requires many of the same contributing factors.

Business leaders can learn a lot from athletes and teams, both through participating and spectating. What are some of the main areas they can focus on?


Much like sports teams need a capable leader, businesses require much the same to function properly. A leader isn’t just someone who orchestrates the people around them and makes big decisions, they often take responsibility for outcomes without hesitation.

Team members must be able to look to leaders for advice and support. Setting an example should be a significant consideration if you’re in charge because you set the tone for others to follow. Managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson, players such as Virgil van Dijk, and captains such as Ben Stokes all encompass the many great qualities of a leader.


Sports teams rely heavily on strategies and plans to reach their objectives. Whether that’s trying to win a fixture or be crowned champions over the course of a season, strategy must drive everything being carried out.

It’s no different in business. Without strategy and organisation, operations are likely to be ineffective, inefficient and incohesive. Planning should be comprehensive across all areas of your business. This includes recruitment, sales, marketing, finance and operations – each needs specific direction and aims to contribute to the overall effort.


Teamwork is all about communication. When it comes to problem-solving and adapting to changing circumstances, communication ensures that everyone is on the same page to execute the strategy being set out.

Overcoming conflicts is also a significant process in both settings. Divisions within a team can absorb energy making it more difficult to achieve objectives. Cohesion and chemistry, on the other hand, can accelerate production and success. The key is effective communication and understanding between team members.

Physical and mental health

One of the more shrouded lessons that business leaders can learn from sports is the importance of mental and physical health. This can be the wellbeing of yourself and other individuals or systems within your business.

In professional sports, you wouldn’t let any of your athletes continue to play with an injury because it may cause them and the team more harm in the future. The common approach is to withdraw them, identify what’s wrong and take action to correct the issues and prevent issues from happening again.

This can be applied to any area of business. If your equipment needs repair but you insist on continuing production, you’re opening yourself to greater loss and disruption down the line. If one of your employees is struggling with their mental health, ignoring the situation is likely to increase absenteeism and reduce productivity. Identify issues and take action to improve your business before they’re more challenging or damaging down the line.

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