Olympic Lessons in Leadership

Ski Jumping is an Olympic game that requires an athlete to launch into the air and fly. Form is important. Wind is important. The approach to launch is important. But what makes the leader is what is in his head. Interesting.

The commentators for this game talked about the belief and confidence that radiated from the athlete. That, they presumed, is what caused them to jump or fly further. Can what is in our heads cause us to remain aloft longer? Can a mere thought overcome gravity? Apparently so because yesterday Switzerland’s Simon Amman outperformed his peers and landed 144 meters out, beating the next competitor by 7 meters. And he flew with a focus and calm that was palpable.

Business leadership follows similar rules.  Confidence and focus is indeed an indicator of success. Form, skill and experience are critical building blocks but great leaders keep their minds in control. There are techniques to use: Prayer, meditation, exercise, practice, coaching. Whatever the technique, a great leader needs to have a calm mind and a focus on the goal that can be observed by others.

There is no Women’s Ski Jumping event at the Olympics even though Lindsey Van holds the record — among both men and women — for the longest jump off of Whistler, B.C.’s normal ski jump, built for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Perhaps the leadership analogy continues here. Women have been held back from competition in Olympic and business competition over the decades. While the Olympic rules are still holding women back, business has opened up to allow women to demonstrate their leadership capabilities. However, the number of women in CEO spots is still disproportionately low.  As of 2009 there were only 12 women CEO’s in the Fortune 500.

Confidence and focus are needed to drive women to the top of organizations. It is a mind game. The other building blocks are there. There is nothing to keep women from flying the furthest in a company. We have what it takes.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1963447,00.html#ixzz0gCg9I8u0

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