The Olympics contains six key lessons for managers, says the chief executive of Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
Ann Francke chose her opening address to the CMI conference to outline how the experience of running the London Games offers useful guidance for business leaders.
The essential lessons are:
- Best practice needs practice “You don’t just say ‘gee’ and hope it goes well on the day,” said Francke.
- Plan your talent pipeline
- Engage your workforce “Use a positive and flexible management style,” said Francke.
- Communicate clearly and consistently to change behaviour
- Have a Plan B “Admit your mistakes and change course,” said Francke, referring to the empty-seats fiasco in the first few days of the Games, when organisers filled up crowd gaps with military personnel, schoolchildren and volunteers.
- Celebrate success
Francke’s speech went down well with delegates who attended the packed event. In a memorable aside, she recalled the raft of business scandals in 2012, including Libor and phone hacking. “In business, it may not have been an annus horribilis but it was an annus shambolicus,” Francke said. “Bankers are less trusted now than estate agents – just above journalists and politicians.”
That Olympic theme was bolstered in a later speech by CMI president elect Peter Ayliffe. Drawing on his experiences as CEO of major Olympics sponsor Visa Europe, he outlined a further four action points that businesses should glean from the Games:
- Set audacious visions and long term goals You will achieve more than you ever thought possible.
- Remain committed to the goals, despite sceptics The Games were a great example of this.
- Build a winning team and create environment in which your team can excel The volunteers achieved more than anyone could have expected, because they were supported.
- Always maintain the integrity of your organisation
So how does Ayliffe think that CMI should help successful managers and leaders? He says the keyword is “support” – just like the athletes had their coaches and infrastructures behind them, no one should feel that they are in management alone.