6 Things Managers Can Learn From the 2016 Olympic Games

What do business professionals and Olympic athletes have in common?

The motto of the Olympic Games is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” You can take the remarkable success of the Olympics and apply it to your own business. You just have to have what it takes:


No gold medalist gets to the podium alone, even if it’s not a team sport. A team of people who have combined their skills, passions and experience has collaborated equally to make their victory possible. Build a team you can trust and give them the resources to succeed.

  • The pursuit of excellence is not just about the star players at the top. It is just as much about the team whose support and talents keep them there. Within your organization, acknowledge individual strengths and contributions, and share the glory.


The Harvard Business Review cited the creation of an unpaid, highly engaged workforce as the 2012 London Olympics’ greatest feat. This team was a legendary example of how a business can operate if its people care passionately about what they are doing.

  • Every volunteer at the London Olympics was called a Game Maker and was encouraged to feel the vital importance of their individual role. In a similar way, business leaders must foster the collaboration of their teams and reward and recognize their contributions.


With a staff of 210,000 and athletes and audiences from around the world, the potential for miscommunication at the last Olympic Games was monumental. But it was handled smoothly through clarity and consistency of communication. The same holds true in business. Banish confusion from your organization by embracing robust communications in all forms and at all levels.


In sports, goals are crystal clear as they focus on achieving peak performance within a set timeframe. Apply this in business by using the SMART technique, setting KPIs that are smart, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

  • Measure everything, from success in bringing in new clients to communication success and employee engagement. This will give you clear markers to improve and map your best way forward.


Dare to be different. Free your teams to think in new ways and focus on concepts, ideas, creativity and innovation. In London, one example was the decision to have seven up-and-coming athletes light the cauldron instead of one iconic Olympian. Even the Olympic cauldron itself was a breathtaking departure from its traditional predecessor.

  • Innovation stems from leaders striving to realize a vision of legacy creation. Seemingly outrageous ideas often give birth to important change and new ways of doing things. As noted by Penny Egan, executive director of England’s Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, “Innovate or fail. Markets are being transformed, brands are being built, products and services are being redesigned, replaced or developed through innovation. Research shows that businesses which harness creativity and design put themselves at the leading edge. More need to be convinced.”

Appreciation of Mistakes

Failure happens even to the best of the best. What is important is to learn from every mistake. Make corrections and use these lessons to change the future.

  • Never give up. Behind the scenes of every champion are a determination and discipline that very few can master. They visualize the end, make a plan to get there and pursue it relentlessly, despite obstacles and setbacks.

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