Team Sports Can Teach You A Lot About Leadership (Parts 2 and 3)

by Deseri Garcia - April 20th, 2011

Team Sports Can Teach You A Lot About Leadership (Part 2)

Read Part 1 of this article

In my previous post I discussed how relevant team sports are in reference to leadership. I mentioned that great team players have integrity and edify their teammates. These attributes are present in great leaders. In this post I will dive into culture, vision and inspiration.

Culture – Life is meant to be enjoyed. It is meant to be fun. Great leaders appreciate this. And, adventure racers thrive on it. If you are not creating an atmosphere your employees ENJOY being, chances are, they are not thriving and neither is your organization…at least not for the long-term.

Employees leave jobs not because of the job, but usually the leader behind the job. Give a lot, laugh a lot. Create a space and culture that is fun and your team will WANT to work with you versus feel like that HAVE to.

Vision – Having a strong and compelling WHY – a reason – a dream – is what compels us to do the things that we know we should do. It takes vision to get MOVING. When my team races we always race with a few clear objectives that we all agree on: to stay safe, race hard, and finish. That almost always lands us in the top of the field.

Having a clear vision and purpose is what separates great leaders from good leaders. They have a clear vision and work to achieve it and others rally to be a part of achieving that vision.

Inspiration – Motivation is about making you do something. Inspiration is about being led are called to act. As a leader you can have a vision all day long, but unless you can inspire others to enroll in your vision, it’s dead. Yes, I said it. Dead.

Training for a 24-36 race has taught me about being inspired. When it’s 5 degrees outside at 5 in the morning and you know that you have to get training miles in for your next event, you find out very quickly just how enrolled and invested you are in the race, your goals and your team.

Motivation will only get you so far. Great leaders lead and inspire their teams to act.

Team Sports Can Teach You A Lot About Leadership (Part 3)

In part 2 I described how culture, vision and inspiration are key leadership attributes. In this final section I will highlight passion and being a life-long learner and team player.

Passion – Passion has been defined as intensity, drive, overmastering feeling or conviction and emotions distinct from reason. I have a business mentor who says if you light a man on fire and send him running down the street, others will follow. Passion is contagious. It is the fuel that leads leaders.

My teammate, Michael Sapper says that his passion in adventure racing comes from the experience of racing. Of knowing he can do it. And, it resonates so deeply in him that he thrives on getting others involved in the sport.

Life-long learner – Great leaders have mentors and are life-long learners. They are aware of the tendency to fall into a comfort zone and get complacent. They know that the knowledge, skills, gifts and talents that got them to where they are will not get them to where they want to go. They are constantly learning, stretching and growing.

Adventure racers look for the same – for opportunities to explore what is beyond their last challenge. Like leaders they ask, “how much farther can I go?”

And, finally the last leadership characteristic is being a Team Player – One of the biggest dynamics in adventure racing is TEAM dynamics – every race offers opportunities to discover and explore the complexity of working with others. Team dynamics is critical to the success of the racers and the race. It only takes one teammate with a poor attitude to bring the entire team down and in some cases cause a non-finish in a race. Teammates that are flexible, have a great attitude, and look out for their team are the best to work and race with.

The top companies to work for in America are, not surprisingly, big investors in their most valuable resource…their people. Leaders know how to lead and inspire teams, they are also team players who have an attitude of WE versus ME.

And while not everyone can relate to leadership in a racing arena, we all know how it feels to work with others, especially in an organization. It takes a tribe that sticks together to make great things happen. It takes great leadership abilities to make that tribe thrive.

What are the attributes of being a leader that you’ve experienced being on a team or working in a team environment?

Deseri Garcia
Vida Aventura

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