INSIGHTS AND PERSPECTIVES

Sports lessons for the business world

BY Mark Hamstra

High-level athletes and coaches offer lessons for the business world, said Molly Fletcher, who runs one of the top sports agencies in the country, during a presentation at the recent Emerson Group Industry Day conference.

In order to remain competitive, these high-performing individuals in the sports world have to focus on continuing improvement because of the intensity of the competition in the industry.
“They wake up and get a little bit better every day because they have to,” she said.

Fletcher listed several characteristics exhibited by elite athletes and coaches that business leaders can emulate, which she described as belief, discovery, clarity, discipline and execution.

As an example of belief, she cited former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz’s transition from starter to closer — a move he made at the request of the Braves for the benefit of the team. Fletcher helped convince him to make the transition, she said. He went on to lead Major League Baseball with 55 saves in his first season in the new position in the rotation.

“It was his ability to lean into change,” Fletcher said. “It starts with leaning into our ability to evolve.”

In terms of discovery, she cited professional basketball superstar Kevin Durant, who hired someone to analyze his shortcomings on some key metrics so that he could work to improve, over and above the coaching he received from his team.

“You need to have the courage to discover your gaps,” Fletcher said. “Making sure we discover our gaps allows us to serve our people even better.”

Discipline is another key attribute that elite athletes and coaches possess, Fletcher said. The best athletes and coaches don’t let failures affect them negatively, she said.

“Don’t let failure define you. Let it develop you,” she said.

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