Leadership and Sports: the example of American Football and Rugby for Business
Updated: May 7, 2019
"I often say rugby's like life. You can have the ball in your hand and be running down the field feeling unstoppable. Then someone tackles you and you hit the deck and you're vulnerable; you're lying there exposed. Suddenly your teammates are there, not just over the ball but over you, protecting you. They're prepared to put their bodies on the line for you. That's what happens in life: you fall over and your mates come to your aid.”
Sir John Kirwan New Zealand rugby legend and former Italy National Team Coach
“Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”
Vince Lombardi American football player, coach, and executive in the National Football League.
I grew up with sports always being part of my life. Since I was very young I loved all activities relating to running, jumping, coordination and motor activity.
When I was not yet 5 years old, due to my hyperactivity, my parents signed me up for Judo class rather than placing me on adderall as possibly suggested by my pediatrician. I am still thanking them today for that wise choice.
Since the age of 4 my life has included sports as an important part, more as a participant than a spectator because I have always been more of a doer than a watcher. Even today as I teach sports management at the University of California, I do not watch very much sports on television; for sure I watch far less sports on television or live, than the average American male of my age.
Leadership skills are important on and off the field. On the field they help create championship teams and extraordinary athletes, while off the field leadership supports great work in the office and most importantly, personal growth.
There is no “one size fits all” type of leadership and as we have explored, in sports and business there are several leadership styles. An effective leader knows how to mix and match styles to inspire and lead followers to achieve desired results. Different leadership styles are in part naturally developed, and in part, can be developed through training and practical experiences to increase organizational effectiveness and enhance performances.
Sports can teach us a lot about the corporate life. Sports are fast paced and require fast thinkers to direct and play the game while adapting to the circumstances and coordinating all the components and resources. This is very similar to executives and managers who need to call the shots and think fast to achieve successful results in their companies.
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Stay Inspired my friends -AP