Three More Ways to Make Work More Like Sports

Euro 2012 concluded yesterday. For those not into soccer that’s the European championship. It happens every four years, kind of like the Olympics or the World Cup.

Spain won as predicted and although Italy lost, they showed up in the finals as a complete surprise to most folks. They made a fantastic run and came up just short when all the luck, ans skill of the Spaniards, seemed to turn against them.

During their run to the finals I was captivated by Gigi Buffon, the Italian goalkeeper and captain. This guy has been around for quite awhile and is still considered one of the top keepers in the game but what impressed me most was the man beyond the play.

  • Camera’s couldn’t stay off him during the Italian national anthem and commentators kept coming back to the passion with which he sang his countries song.
  • During their semi-0final penalty shoot-out against England he could be seen slapping hands with Joe Hart, England’s keeper, between penalties.
  • After the loss in the finals the cameras followed him as he comforted his teammates and even his coach.

Back in January I posted “What’s the Difference Between Life and Sports?” where I explored some of the ways in which our work environments often conspire to make life a whole lot less exciting than following sports. As this summer wends its way though Euro 2012 and the Olympics more and more Gigi Buffon’s are going to come across our radar screen.

So what can we learn from Buffon’s example?

1. We like to play for something bigger.
That’s why Buffon belting out his national anthem is impressive. He gets that, he connects to it, he’s proud of his country. How often in our work places to we as managers try to instill in our people a sense of something bigger than just a paycheck?

The opposite is true in sports as well…we don’t care for the selfish player who is just in it for the money. How much heat, pun intended, has Lebron gotten for that?

2. We like a class act.
Even in the tension packed moment of a penalty shoot out Buffon makes the effort to connect with the opposing keeper, a guy who he openly respects as an up and comer. That’s class.

How do we create an atmosphere of class even in the midst of competitive tensions in the work place? How do we reward “class”? Typically I find we don’t. We like it, we applaud it, but we hope it doesn’t get in the way.

3. We like team guys who lead.
I watched this world class athlete who had just loss put aside his own grief long enough to comfort guys who may well get a second and even third chance at this tournament. This was a captain leading his men even after the battle was finished.

How many leaders in business have you seen take that approach? We more often see them focused on responsibility and blame for the loss. How do we instill not only this level of teamwork, but leadership in our people?

I wonder who we’ll see emerge from the Olympic games in a few weeks time. I wonder what lessons we’ll be able to take away from these games about how to create more passion, more life, in our work environments.

How much of this connection to class, leadership, and a connection to something bigger is cultural? Do you think it is the same for people outside the US?

One response to “Three More Ways to Make Work More Like Sports

  1. I think sports connects within and among cultures, and I think this is a large part of why they are such a big aspect of all cultures. The way in which sports connects people would make for an interesting post or even a series.

    On another note, would you be interested in guest posting on my blog? Check it out, and let me know if you would be willing. I would be honored. Thanks for considering it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s