At Half Dome Partners, we like to fill our “squad” with athletes. Not necessarily in the physical sense, although it turns out that successful members of our team are, or have been, athletes at a high level of competition. Both John and I played Division 1 rugby in College – John also played Division 1 football – followed by Division 1 Senior Men’s rugby. While I most certainly played my last high level match, John continues to train at a local Cross Fit and plays rugby for Santa Monica Rugby Club.
When we talk about hiring athletes, we are really talking about the traits that successful athletes have (like leadership traits) that make any individual an exceptional hire.
The characteristics we desire are as follows:
- The drive to practice a task rigorously and relentlessly . . . especially when not initially “successful” or the best.
Athletes are tenacious and they rarely give up. They also have a high work rate and the ability to work though the inevitable issues of temporary pain or discomfort. Athletes also possess the intuition to know when the cause of the pain is an issue that shouldn’t be ignored.
- Achieve your goals.
If one path is blocked, athletes find another path to success. If physical strength is not enough, they adapt their strategy.
- Develop new skills.
Even though an athlete may be highly specialized at certain activities, such as explosive speed, body control, or hand-eye coordination, they are also good at adapting to scenarios that call for cross-functional skills. Learning on the fly is key to success on the field and in business.
- Exceptional entrepreneurs.
People from large corporate environments may tend to be hyper-specialized in their skills and single-minded in their objectives, while a business athlete may be prepared to see the bigger vision of all that goes into making a company thrive. They often think strategically and are tuned in to long-term goals. They also know how to put strategy into action.
Most athletes understand that they have to have balance in diet, training, and rest to expect positive results. A true business athlete will respect the laws of balance in work and play that will allow them to succeed again and again.
- Work well with partners and in teams.
Successful athletes understand how to leverage the unique and complementary strengths of each member of their team. They know that cutting down a teammate or disrespecting a partner will only contribute to an organization’s demise. In fact, an athlete will typically put the needs of the team or a partner on the same level even ahead of their own needs.