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Five Takeaways From the London Olympics

 -  7/27/12

The world's biggest sports stage can teach talent managers how to manage long-term goals, motivate a diverse workforce and more.

Tonight’s opening ceremony, “The Isles of Wonder,” marks the beginning of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The quadrennial sporting event captivates the world’s attention for its display of athletic prowess. But in between watching synchronized diving and pole vaulting, HR leaders can glean important management lessons from the London Games.

Sharon Daniels, CEO at AchieveGlobal, a performance improvement company, and Rick Lash, a director in leadership and talent at the Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, identified takeaways from the decade-long production process before the start of the Olympics as well as motivational and coaching strategies that directly apply to workplace scenarios.

Manage long-term planning. From the initial bid to the actual games, organization of the Olympics is a 10-year-long process. Successful leaders of such long-term projects are able to see the forest through the trees. While these types of projects can be plagued by minor hiccups, HR professionals should focus on the big picture and meeting clearly defined deadlines.

“The Olympics are a great example of success through long-term planning and the importance of thinking not in the next-quarter terms or answering your next BlackBerry message,” Lash said. “When we look ahead at what leadership is going to look like in the next 20 years as the world becomes more global and complex, leaders have to have the capacity to think strategically long term, while at the same time knowing how to manage tactical day-to-day activities.”

Help employees understand the roles they play. Thousands of hands are involved in the production process of any Olympic Games, from planning staff to construction workers and even volunteers. This year’s London Games will include 70,000 volunteers who will work 8 million hours over the 17-day event.

“People are required to meet all of those deadlines, so helping them understand the role that they play, how important it is and how it rolls up into the bigger picture is something a leader gets recognized for in organizations,” Daniels said.

Article Keywords:   talent management   management   Olympics  


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