As many of you know, the foundation of my leadership training and my own life experience is in the world of sport. It was early in my career as a leadership trainer that I made the connection between what is required to be a high-performance athlete and a high-performance leader. This connection laid the groundwork for the ’10 Principles of Leadership and Life’. As the athletes return to their respective homes after the closing ceremonies of the latest Olympic games, it’s an ideal time to think about that connection by reviewing some of what we saw transpire over the last few weeks.

When people think of the Olympics, they generally assume it’s about competing at the highest level. That is definitely true, but there is a lot of valuable lessons to learn if you look below the surface. The Olympic games will always reward teamwork, dedication, and resiliency. Here are a few examples of that at the 2018 games.


1. The Importance of Working with Teammates: Germany’s men’s ice hockey team was one goal away from one of the most improbable Olympic performances of all time. They fell just short of the gold, losing 3-2 to the heavily favored Russians in overtime. A great accomplishment for Russia, but let’s take a moment to reflect on the incredible performance by the Germans!
Overlooked heading into the tournament, the team filled with veterans playing mostly in the German league played incredibly as a team. They were able to upset two traditional hockey powers, Sweden and Canada, on the way to the Silver. Former NHL Pro Marco Sturm was one of their coaches and instilled a system that the team followed the success. One of the players stated, “He installed a system that really fits the players well we have,” Ehrhoff said. “He is one of the greatest figures of German hockey, so when he first came in, the respect level he has within the group, it’s huge.” It just goes to show how having the right system and team in place can beat out individual talent.

The 10 Principles remind us to have the right person in the right position for the best results. To have a clear vision, that is shared with all members of the team, so that they are able to remain on mission and achieve the goal.


2. Fulfilling Your Mission Takes Dedication: Elizabeth Swaney’s name will live in infamy after her Olympic performance, and she has garnered some backlash for her performance. However, I admire her mission to become an Olympian. A little back story on Elizabeth Swaney show’s that she attempted to become a skeleton Olympian for Venezuela before switching over to Skiing for Hungary. Say what you want about the “country shopping” but take into account the determination to live one’s mission, and the ability to get back up after failure. Kudos to Elizabeth, who put just as much time and effort into the event as the other Olympians. She clearly knew what her vision for herself was and remained true to that vision.


3. The importance of Visualizing Your Mission: Olympic athletes are constantly learning from their experiences and growing to become stronger people as a result. Canadian Skier Mark McMorris was severely injured in a backcountry skiing accident in 2017. The crash was near fatal, leaving Mark with broken ribs, a broken arm, broken jaw, ruptured spleen, collapsed lung and more injuries. It was so severe Mark was on a liquid only diet for 6 weeks. However, perseverance pays off, as Mark took home the Bronze Medal in Slopestyle. His road to recovery took months, but Mark never lost sight of competing at the Olympics. He went on to say, “”Stay focused and visualize what you want to happen.”. Mark is a shining example of how visualizing one’s mission will allow you to not lose sight and hope in the face of adversity.

Visualizing your goal is one of the tried and true techniques that is used in coaching others to achieve their highest potential, whether in the arena of sport or business. Seeing where you want to be and allowing yourself to ‘feel’ that that will be like are key components to getting yourself to that ideal future, whatever that may be for you.
Take a little time and review the ’10 Principles for Leadership and Life’ for yourself. What are some of the other principles that you saw displayed by the athletes of the 2018 Olympics? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Take a little time to go through the Principles yourself! You can do the assessment by accessing the survey link on my website at: http://www.markmcgregor.ch/cms1/index.php/survey/ When you’ve competed the survey/assessment, decide what one action is the best starting place to get you closer to your own unique mission! It may not be Olympic gold that you are striving for, but if you are clear on your values and vision, achieving your own mission will feel just as rewarding!


If you would like to see how core leadership principals apply to your every day life, take our short survey.


This article also appears on Mark’s home webpage, Mark McGregor Leadership Center GMBH.