Hiring Best Athlete for the Job Pays Off

Are you hiring the best athletes available?
There is a practice among successful pro sports teams that drafting the best athlete available is the way to develop winning teams. I believe this is also true in business and by doing a small study lately I came to the realization that there is a strong correlation to successful salespeople, sales leadership and C-suite executives.
I know that many of you will say, OK, this is just my way of saying that because I was a successful amateur and professional athlete that it then led to my success in business. In reality, I recognize that I always hired people who were high school and college athletes and never knew why until a study I did in November of this year.
At a meeting of 10 Sales VPs, we had by show of hands how many were successful athletes in high school. We were 10 for 10. Five of our members were not at the meeting, but I know them all and we were now 15 for 15. Next I asked the 10 attendees to think of the two best people they had ever hired in their careers. Again we were 20 for 20 on the competitive athlete front.
To carry my research further, I met with 10 CEOs the next day and asked the same question. Nine of 10 were competitive athletes. One CEO did not play sports in high school because his parents were educators, but after he got on his own, he became expert at the martial arts and still runs several miles every day. Then we went to the best two people they had ever hired, and we were 18 of 20. The two exceptions were performing musicians who were used to playing in front of crowds.
After seeing these amazing numbers, we then asked why this was a factor and what attributes did athletes have in common.
They were used to scoreboards and being judged every time they played.

  • They had to try out and make the team every year. If they let down, they were replaced.
  • They had to be on time for practice.
  • They were used to hard work and balancing education and sports. 100% of them had jobs that they worked either after school or in the summer.
  • They were coachable.
  • They were competitive, but team oriented.
  • They were always working on improvement.

I am sure my small sample size will allow some to question if this is merely a coincidence or if there is some merit to looking into people’s background to determine if these are factors that should be taken into account when hiring.
So my takeaway is, hire the best athlete available but don’t forget performing musicians.
Weekly Wisdom by Jerry Rollins, CEO and Chairman of Sage Executive Group

The Behavior of Successful CEOs

Who is the typical CEO?
Countless studies and articles have tried to pinpoint the CEO personality.
A recent Duke University study found that CEOs are more likely to be optimists and risk-takers than are members of the general population. According to New York Times columnist Adam Bryant, author of The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons From CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, CEOs are curious, confident, fearless team players who prefer simple, concise information. But how do these abstract characteristics translate into action? How do successful CEOs behave?
Here’s one thing studies tell us about those at the top: They are social—very social.
A joint study by professors at Harvard University, the London School of Economics, and the European University Institute found that CEOs spend 85% of their time working with other people – attending meetings, on the phone, or at work events – and only 15% of their time working alone. Of time spent with others, nearly half of that time included people outside of the CEO’s organization.
Whether by nature or nurture, CEOs are collaborative individuals.
As our world becomes increasingly interconnected – spurred on by the ever-expanding social media universe – it is clear that the collaborative nature of business is here to stay. A 2012 IBM study found that more than two-thirds of corporations plan to partner with other corporations this year – up from only slightly more than half in 2008, according to Forbes.
People used to talk about competition, about protecting industry secrets and shutting out competitors. Now we talk about cooperation and coordination, explains Jerry Rollins, Co-Founder of Sage Executive Group. “Coopetition’ is the new competition. CEOs who learn from other companies gain more knowledge than they ever could if they limited their interaction to their own firm alone,” he says.
So how can a busy CEO ensure his or her company is not functioning in a vacuum?

  • Read industry newsletters to keep abreast of industry trends.
  • Implement a social media strategy. Take note of other companies’ social media strategies in order to learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Do not underestimate the power of virtual and digital communication.
  • Join a CEO peer advisory group to gain the perspective of CEOs outside your organization.

While the personality traits of successful CEOs may vary, evidence suggests collaboration is one behavioral trait successful CEOs have in common.