The notion that female athletes are good business hires was reinforced recently when I spent the morning with an amazing group of women for the Ernst & Young Thought Center Webcast: Playing to Win. The group consisted of leaders and businesswomen that ranged from entrepreneur to philanthropist, and financial powerhouse to trailblazer. It was international and diverse, but we all had one thing in common: Sport. Most of us played sport, and all of us believe that sport is an important tool for girls in terms of development, educational opportunity, confidence, self-esteem, and career.
I could create a long list of recognizable women who have reaped the benefits of sport participation, but two statistics say it all for me. Over 96% of c-level female executives played sports, and over 50% of those did so at a collegiate level.
Women are phenomenal leaders, and a large contingent of those leaders began building their leadership characteristics on the field of play, on a soccer field or a gym court, in the pool or around the track. So much is taught through sport, and it’s often not the best athletes that gain the most. You don’t have to win a gold medal or lead a championship team to learn how to deal with success and failure. By just participating, girls learn team work, dedication, discipline, how to take critique or constructive criticism, goal setting, accomplishment, nutrition, balance, scheduling and time management. The list of lessons learned through sport goes on and on. During this webcast we talked about many of these things, but the discussion has only just begun. Here are my top 5 reasons why women athletes are fabulous in business.
Women who participate in sports are …
- Goal oriented. Women who played sports, whether they were team or individual, understand setting goals and working to achieve them.
- Know how to deal with setbacks and failure. Female athletes are quick to learn from their mistakes and often view setbacks as a way to get better and move.
- Team players. Even when they come from an individual sport, women who played sports clearly view working as/with a team to accomplish a goal as an overwhelming positive. They’re also adept at navigated team dynamics.
- Hard Workers. Athletes identify with the “No deposit, no return” philosophy. They don’t expect success to come easy and recognize that you must put in the time and the work to see results.
- Good Time Managers. Female athletes have to balance a lot of obligations with practice, games, school, socialization, family, etc., thus they’re very good at time management and multitasking. These skills make them great at efficiently managing tasks, obligations, and commitments.