Why Rugby Players make good Employees and Managers

Why Rugby Players make good Employees and Managers

Why Rugby Players make good Employees and Managers

As we draw breath after an exciting Saturday of 6 Nations Rugby and look forward to a nail-biting finish on Friday night in Paris, for some players the championship has been the start of their international career, for others it has provided their swansong; they may be fortunate and go on to pursue successful careers in the media or in coaching a squad themselves.  But spare a thought for all the Rugby players who are injured and/or are set to retire at the end of this unusual season.  For many the transition from the excitement as well as the routine of the world of Rugby in to retirement can be very challenging.  Nowadays in the professional era more support is provided to encourage players to plan for their future after Rugby and prepare them for a possible career in business, but the sudden change is still daunting. 

Whilst I have been providing Career Transition Coaching for injured and retired players for many years, I have always been impressed by the transferable skills they have to bring from sport in to business.  Aside from the obvious attributes of team working, many Rugby players already demonstrate the competencies, skills and behaviours required to be an effective Leader, Manager or team member in the business world and here are 10 reasons why:

1. Communication Skills: Rugby players are used to listening to their Coaches and team mates and learning and using coded pieces of information to communicate on the pitch, such as the forwards in the line-out.  They often need to control their body language not to give away their intentions for the next phase of play.  Additionally many players receive media training and are able to answer challenging questions in a measured way.  Controlling body language, actively listening and the ability to give straight forward answers to complex queries, are valuable skills in a business arena.

2. Assertiveness: A professional sports person needs to have strong self-belief and confidence which are also important attributes required in today’s demanding work environment.

3. Diversity and Inclusion: Rugby teams are made up of a wealth of diverse players, not only in terms of physical shapes and sizes, but also with players originating from different countries, cultures and backgrounds; this experience is valuable in an increasingly diverse workplace.

4. Building Effective Working Relationships: In order to be effective as a team, players need to be able to cope with competing for places, at the same time as supporting their team mates on and off the pitch.  Additionally, they have to be emotionally intelligent in order to cope with the banter and constructive feedback.  Rugby players tend to have wide social networks, high profiles and the ability to forge strong working relationships to develop mutual respect.  Companies have long seen the benefit of leveraging these skills and profiles to endorse their own products and services.

5. Coaching Skills: Rugby players are used to being coached, given ‘stretch’ goals, working towards specific targets, and receiving often brutal feedback about their own and the team’s performance with ideas on how to improve it.  This familiarity with a Coaching or Performance Management process makes them more adaptable and open to change and feedback in a business environment.

6. Managing Conflict  and exhibiting Self-control: Gone are the days when a match involved a good punch up; players nowadays have to maintain a fine balance between performing to their optimum capability and controlling their aggression to avoid being penalised, sin binned or even red carded and banned for some time.  Again, this self-discipline is useful in a demanding work environment where stress and interpersonal disputes are on the increase.

7. Delegation and EmpowermentMany managers struggle to delegate work tasks and empower their employees, whereas Rugby players are used to carrying out their own specific role and accepting the delegation of other duties to their team mates, although in the modern game it has more common for props to score tries!  The trend in Rugby Coaching is to empower players to assess their own performance, identify areas of improvement, and share ideas on how to develop and overcome the next opponents.  These analytical skills, added to creativity and innovation, are also highly transferable in to business.

8. Decision Making: Many games are won or lost on split second decisions under immense pressure; added to the ability to be highly focused and dynamic these skills are transferable off the pitch and are assets in any organisation.

9. Time Management: Although many players often liken the Rugby world to the regimented life of the military, they still need to ensure they arrive on time for matches and are often seen as highly reliable and motivated in the world of business, where punctuality for meetings is often quite a rare occurrence, whether online or in person.

10. Coping with Uncertainty, Pressure and Change: Of course,  Rugby players are physically resilient with natural presence and gravitas, but mental toughness is also required in order to be able to deal with the disappointment of being dropped from the team, of being injured, or criticised in the media, as well as the ability to bounce back from the inevitability of losing matches.  As the working environment becomes ever more challenging the ability to cope with stress, pressure and change and be mentally resilient is key to an individual’s health and well-being.

At Natural Talent we are able to assist players in the transition from their Rugby playing days to the world of business, by providing Personality Questionnaires to identify any key development areas or career matches, as well as guidance on CV Writing and interview techniques, and Coaching in practical skills such as Consultative Sales, Strategic and Organisational Awareness and Project Management.

‘Jill is a great Career and Transition Coach who has helped with the initial challenges that professional athletes face when injured or nearing retirement. She has heaps of experience in CV writing and has acted as a mentor by providing loads of very practical Career advice. Jill also understands the transferable skills that Rugby players have that are valuable in a Coaching and/or business environment. She’s also a real pleasure to work with.’  Professional Rugby Player 

About Jill Maidment

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