Leadership Lessons from Sochi

Business owners and executives can learn effective communication tips from Canadian Olympic athletes. As the following sports leaders prove, winning communication is more than words — it’s about positive attitudes and actions, too.

For success in business, apply these lessons from Canada’s heroes in Sochi:

Give others the glory:
Calgary speedskater Gilmore Junio set aside his own lifelong dream and gave up his spot to give another athlete, Denny Morrison, a shot at a medal. Morrison subsequently won silver for Canada. As a leader, doing what’s best for the group includes giving others the chance to shine.

Dream big:
Two-time bobsled gold medalists (and Canadian flag bearers at Sochi’s closing ceremonies) Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyne remained focused on gold. “We’re fierce, we’re proud, we’re determined, we’re not going to settle for anything less than being the very best,” said Humphries. As a leader, it’s your role to boldly set lofty goals for your team.

Demonstrate grace:
Despite an outstanding ice dancing performance, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue won silver; the U.S. won gold. Their coach and judges received public criticism for bias. Despite their heartbreak, Moir and Virtue regained their composure and accepted their silver with dignity. As a leader, the sooner you graciously accept business outcomes and learn from them, the sooner you and your team can move on.

Strike early:
The Canadian men’s hockey team won back-to-back gold medals by taking an early lead, protecting it and dominating the competition. As a leader, grab opportunities to gain a competitive advantage and fight to keep it. Sun Tzo says it best in The Art of War: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.”

Never give up:
As in business, sports can be war. Down 2-0 with less than four minutes to go in the third period of the gold medal hockey final, Team Canada’s women could have given up in despair. Instead, they showed superhuman strength and persistence, tying the game and winning in overtime. As a leader, use challenges as opportunities to unite your team, take risks and triumph over adversity.

Canadian athletes’ leadership stories show how teamwork, hope and determination can lead to inspirational wins. Use their examples to lead your company to victory.

What do you think?
What other leadership lessons did Canadian athletes demonstrate in Sochi?

Lisa Goller
Lisa Goller helps businesses tell their story. As a Toronto-based Strategic Freelance Writer & Editor, she helps executives and entrepreneurs stand out, look good and save time. Learn more at lisagoller.com

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