(Our experts: Miklós Palencsár, is a mentor, the founder of MPG and RISE, and the winner of the CEO Today’s “Business Coaching Leader of the Year – Europe” award. Gergely Siklósi is a former World Cup Champion, the reigning World Champion, and the reigning Olympic Silver Medallist in épée fencing.)
The world of athletes has always been important to businesspeople. Although it is often not possible to establish a direct link between these two areas, interoperability is clear in several fields. The clear reason for this is that similar processes are emerging in business and sport, but in the field of sport, everything can be measured much faster and often more objectively. During the pandemic, it was especially noticeable that companies and business managers that monitored, transferred, and applied proven sports techniques/methodologies emerged from the crisis in a much better condition. So, it’s no surprise that business decision-makers in charge of major strategic change are increasingly drawing from sports experience.
“It’s no coincidence that more and more business decision-makers are reaching for the experience of athletes. I experience this in my own work as well. I’ve seen things from a whole different dimension ever since I began training elite athletes on an individual and team level. Business has become easier. Athletes have knowledge that they consider natural and ensure their survival/success. Meanwhile, they don’t even think about how much of all this is worth to a businessperson. That’s why they don’t spend time making it understandable, shaping it into a product for business. This requires more complex thinking and special openness to mental development. And there is another very important component of this: the right humility towards results and the world as a whole. To analyse, to research the cause of current success, not just to be satisfied with it. What’s more, it has to be accepted that part of success comes from the personality, not just work ethic or innate talent. It may be important for such athletes in the future to transfer their knowledge to business. Not just with template motivational presentations or cliché methods, but also specifically translate and decode their knowledge with professionals so that business actors can immediately translate it into practice. We have such programmes, these are serious and unique business development and product development jobs, based on the knowledge of a great athlete,” assessed Mr Palencsár. Athletes make many attempts at business careers after their sports careers end. They entertain the business actors mostly with lectures and novelties, but in many cases, they do not manage to bring these novelties to the level of implementation, which then fails after a while.
“I think it’s important to stay human as an athlete. Of course, sports success is very important, but I never go into a world competition thinking that my life depended on it. In addition to sports, I have also started to articulate to myself who I want to become. It is very important to me to be a useful member of the community. This is true in the narrower sense of the fencing team that is already preparing for the Paris Olympics, but it is also true for my own generation, for example. I find it important to reflect on what happens to me in a competition, in my life, and to articulate these to myself. That is why I sought support about how to shape my perception of life, my results, and my experiences into a product. This product is constantly changing and expanding, since I am only 24. But that is exactly the essence of this process. At the moment, I am there to deal with the crisis with peace of mind, but with the right adrenaline, and I can rejoice in success even if it is not the top spot,” explained Mr Siklósi.
Managing the business of the future is sure to be much more competitive than ever, and in this situation, the solutions to be applied are clearly shifting towards the mechanisms of the most successful athletes.
“We already see that companies using solutions based on sports success are experiencing more of their own success. I clearly see this as the owner of a business development company, a mentor working in business and sports. Our job is to bring these two worlds as close as possible, and I’m not talking about sponsorships here. Young, next-generation athletes can play a big role in this healthy process. I also managed individual athletes in Tokyo, where a gold and a silver medal were also placed around the necks of my mentees, but in addition, this new generation of competitors, fresh with a new perspective, is already performing exceptionally well. We are now accelerating the transformation of this knowledge into business in our developments around the world,” concluded Mr Palencsár.
There will be serious challenges and competition for companies, managers, and employees in the coming years as a result of the pandemic. The experience of young athletes trained in world competitions and accustomed to crises as natural phenomena will certainly be needed to overcome this hurdle as well. The courtship has already started between sports and business, which has not brought unavoidable conflicts, so the next step is marriage.