Career Enhancement: Leadership Skills You Can Learn From Sports

Career Enhancement: Leadership Skills You Can Learn From Sports


Did you know that the leadership skills you can learn from sports may be able to boost your professional life? Here’s how to put those skills to use

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Everyone knows that sports are an excellent way to stay fit, improve your health, and lower your stress levels. But did you know they can help you in your business too? Whether you’re a CEO, an employee, a freelancer, or a manager, there are leadership skills you can learn from sports that translate into a business setting.

The key is to be mindful when you’re participating in your chosen sport. Each sport offers a variety of skills aside from the physical skills needed to play the sport. When you engage in your sport, you’re practicing these skills without even realizing it!

Pay a little more attention, and you can move them over into the office or boardroom… Accelerating your career as well as boosting your physical and mental health. Here are some of the leadership skills you can learn from sports.

Leadership Skills You Learn When Playing Sports

No matter which sport you opt for, you can learn valuable life and leadership skills by noticing the following things when you’re practicing or playing:


Unless you’re participating in an individual sport like running or tennis, every sport requires communication between team members. Not just any old communication, though—effective communication.

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Get it wrong, and your team will be all over the place. But get it right, and you’ll be like a well-oiled machine that just understands each other and gets stuff done. This often requires some practice and setting guidelines or rules beforehand—like during practice. It’s important that you know how to both listen and communicate when necessary.


Team sports obviously require teamwork. If just one player decides to go rogue, the whole game plan can fall apart, so it’s vital that everyone knows their part and plays it to the best of their ability.

Understand that each team member brings something specific to the table. Play to your strengths, but also understand the strengths of others and how to work together to achieve your goals in every match.

Self-Discipline and Focus

Both team and individual sports require you to be disciplined and focused. Discipline is what drives you to attend practices, improve your skills, and be better than others. Focus is what keeps you aiming towards that goal without losing your way or your motivation.

Self-discipline also entails working on your skills outside of the team or competitive environment. It can also encompass things like building mental strength and fortitude.


In sports, the goal is generally to beat the other team or other participants! But smaller goals can also be built into that. When it comes to different team members, each will have their own goals within the bigger goal, which motivate them to push forward and perform at their best.

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Organizational Skills

Sport is surprisingly organized. Teams need to prioritize actions and manage their time during a game, as well as figure out what to focus on during each practice to make the most of the time available.

Those who partake in individual sports need to do the same. Prioritizing what needs to be addressed upfront can make a positive change to your performance, while a poor organization can be a disaster waiting to happen.

Strategic Thinking

You need to be able to adapt on the go when you’re playing sports. Your team can have the best plan, but if something unexpected happens, your strategic thinking skills need to kick in fast to be able to handle it.

From Passion To Profit

You’ll stand a better chance of winning any sport if you’re several steps ahead of your opponents at all times. Strategy is the way to go, but being flexible enough and mentally sharp enough to adjust it at any time necessary.


Patience might not seem like something you get from sports, but it goes hand in hand with discipline. Sometimes, you’ll need to push through harder matches and less motivated practices, but keeping your patience will help you not to become disillusioned.

How Are These Skills Applied in the Work Environment?

It’s great that you can learn and actively practice those skills on the sports field. But how do they translate into a business setting?

Teamwork – Collaboration and Cooperation

Working with others is a necessity in most businesses. No businessman is an island! Collaborating with other team members is the best way to get projects done fast and effectively. Not everyone has the same skills, either, which means a team is generally better equipped to handle a big project than an individual.

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It requires everyone involved to put aside their differences, show respect to their fellow teammates, and do their bit. Everyone has a role to play, and it’s crucial for the smooth running of the business that everyone cooperates.

Communication – Interpersonal and Written

Communication can make or break business deals. Poor communication is a recipe for misunderstandings and strained company culture. Good communication is a foundation upon which a business can flourish.

Most businesses use a combination of written communication and face-to-face communication. It’s important to understand how to communicate effectively across each medium—and remember, things can be taken the wrong way over text as there’s no context like body language and facial expression.

Communicating effectively will also ensure that everyone knows their roles, their goals, and what they need to do for the team.

Problem-Solving – Thinking Strategically

You need to think fast on the sports field, but the same is true for the workplace. The guidebook never quite covers everything, so you need to be prepared to troubleshoot on the go sometimes.

Sometimes, problems require a bit more creativity or innovative thinking in order to come up with solutions. The sports field can be a great training ground for this kind of thing in the workplace—and don’t be afraid to try things that seem a bit out there!

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Commitment to Excellence

If you slack off during one game, there’s a high chance of you being on the bench for the next! Individual sports have slightly more room for laziness, but it’ll take much longer to reach your goal if you’re non-committal.

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Committing to excellence is the best way to stay in the team, keep improving, reach new goals, set new PRs, and become known as someone who’s reliable. And the same is true for the office. Commit to excellence in everything you do and don’t slack off when you just don’t feel like doing what you need to.

Leadership – Guiding and Inspiring Others

Learning leadership skills isn’t just great to get you that corner office. Use them right, and you could become a well-respected, relied-upon, looked-up-to business person… And sports person!

About The Author
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website, Golf Influence.
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