3 Tips for Leaders from the 2018 Winter Olympics

Athletes from around the world have gathered for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which officially kicked off with the opening ceremonies on February 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As you watch the games and cheer on your favorite team, here are three leadership lessons to consider.

1. It takes a team

Expectations were high for American figure skater Nathan Chen at the Olympics, but spectators were shocked after he fell during the team short program and placed fourth, instead of first, as anticipated.

Fortunately, all was not lost for Team USA. Mirai Nagasu placed second in the women’s free skate and became the third woman and first American to land a triple axel at the Olympics. The other team members Alexa Scimeca Knierim, Chris Knierim, Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani, Adam Rippon, and Bradie Tennell also had excellent performances. In the end, even after a troubling start, the team came together to win the bronze medal.

Teamwork is equally important in the business world. Effective leaders know that successful growth requires multiple perspectives and more skills than a single individual could possess. Working with a team will help you see opportunities, risks, and generate new ideas for strategic growth.

Especially when it comes to external growth and M&A, there are too many things to do and no one can do it on their own. The wise leader knows when to rely on others and when to pull in internal and external teams.

2. Dedication and planning lead to success

What makes Olympians so good at their sports? While each event is unique, for the most part it can be summed up by one common theme: years and years of dedication and practice. You would never say someone is going to casually try out for the Olympics and just see what happens without careful planning. There is no way they would make it! These athletes are the best of the best and have spent their lives perfecting their skills.

Company growth doesn’t just happen. It takes years of dedication and planning to achieve your dreams. For leaders that means having a clear vision for the future and developing a carefully laid out step-by-step approach. Don’t take a plan as you go approach, instead plan first and then execute. The time you spend upfront developing a strategy and plan is crucial to your company’s success. Be intentional. Have a plan. Be a winner.

3. Don’t get too comfortable

At the Sochi Winter Olympics games four years ago, Shaun White had two gold medals and was expected to win a third, when he fell on his last run. For the first time he finished off the podium, placing fourth. He could have given up, but instead he revamped his strategy with a new coach, manager, and physical therapist. Newly motivated he came back to  win his third gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

In sports and in business a competitor can always upstage you and it’s important never to get too comfortable. You may be the best now, but that can change rapidly. Looking at the news, we can easily spot examples of disruptors like Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber who are transforming industries and challenging traditional players. Change is a part of business and leaders must continually evaluate their strategy in order to grow. That might mean modifying some of your practices today so that you can succeed tomorrow. The most successful companies are the ones that can grasp this concept.

Photo credit: Snow Snow via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0