Lessons from the Flying Squirrel.

August 3rd, 2012

My apologies to you fans of “The Bullwinkle Show.” Flying squirrel here refers not to Rocket J. Squirrel, but to the nickname of 16-year-old Gabby Douglas, who yesterday won gymnastics’ biggest prize and her second gold medal.

The summer games have drawn comparisons between attributes of Olympic winners and the characteristics of successful businesses from some top leadership commentators. Here are recaps from two experts I’d put on the winning bloggers’ podium: Forbes magazine contributor Mike Myatt and Rosabeth Moss Kanter, tenured professor in business at Harvard Business School.

In his article, “4 Leadership Lessons from the Olympics,” Myatt presents the Olympics as a case study for leaders to strengthen themselves and their organizations. Here’s what you need:

  • Branding. The Olympics may operate on a four-year cycle, but it’s still a deadline that requires delivery of the products and the experience.
  • Execution & grace under pressure. The Olympics is a master study on everything required to deliver on your product or service’s promise.
  • Organization matters. The structure supports the vision and mission.
  • Sustainability. There’s a blueprint in place that guarantees leadership continuity.

In her blog post, “Ten Reasons Winners Keep Winning, Aside from Skill,” Kanter compared winning athletes to the top achievers in business she studied for her book, “Confidence” in a review of the advantages winners gain that carry them to their next success. Here are a few standouts:

  • Good mood. A positive mental attitude creates the energy that fosters resilience.
  • Learning. Winners have the confidence to learn from their mistakes. They see no limits on possibilities and understand that positive outcomes require practice of skills and fine-tuning of processes.
  • Freedom to focus. Winners don’t allow distractions.
  • Positive culture of mutual respect. Team members act generously towards each other. They trust each other in pursuit of a common goal.

Embodied in both articles are what I believe to be the core attributes of effective leaders: trust, confidence, hope, optimism and resilience.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net






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