Writing this article at the beginning of the Wimbledon tennis championships almost seems a bit like tempting fate. Mention a player by name, and they are almost be certain to be knocked out in the first round; well before you read this article. But nevertheless sport has a lot to teach business and even an apparently solitary sport such as tennis can throw up some important leadership lessons.
Take a glance into the player’s box and soon apparent that every player has a team behind them, all working together to help the player deliver when it matters most. More importantly, watch any match and you will see the player constantly looking to their box, seeking encouragement and support. Uniting that team, choosing the people who will contribute best to the player’s development and fit in with their ethos and playing style is a leadership skill in itself.
Then there is the route which players follow in order to get fitness for the important tournaments. Although the end goal, winning the championship, is the same for everyone there is no one size fits all pathway. So some will play a lot in the weeks leading up to the championship whilst others will take a break, the mix of on and off court work will vary as will their selected training grounds.
Devising the strategy, choosing the right pathway is another leadership skill which directly crosses between sport and business; as is the building of a strong reputation. How they play, how they behave not only helps players to build a following, it also helps them in the mental game which could just win them a match. Gain a reputation for coming back strongly in the last set and your opponent will always be on edge, waiting for that brilliant shot which will change the game.