The Management Olympics

We have a confession to make. We may have pinched this idea from one of our fantastic candidates who used it in her presentation for a (successful!) interview with a fabulous business – so many thanks and congratulations, you know who you are!

It goes without saying that everyone’s a tad abuzz with Olympics fever – after all, it’s just over 100 days until the opening ceremony of London 2012! Exciting stuff.

There are a grand total of 26 sports that make up the Olympic games, all requiring a very specific set of skills that make the athletes involved the best in the world. Now, our candidates are a very skilled bunch – they’re the best at what they do in a very fast-moving, competitive industry, which requires them to continually strive to beat off the competition, especially when seeking a new role.

It’s always good to go forward for a new role with a clear idea of where your skills lie – and where they don’t. Usain Bolt, for instance, probably wouldn’t claim to be a world-class weight lifter, just as you’re unlikely to see Chris Hoy representing the UK in table tennis – although we’re not going to argue with either of them if they say otherwise. They’re Olympians, after all.

We’ve had a think about the specific skills required for some of the Olympic sports – because let’s face it, everyone harbours a little bit of Olympic aspiration! Which ones do you have – and which ones will you bring to your next role?


This quote, taken from the London 2012 website, pretty much says it all:

Athletics is the perfect expression of the Olympic motto ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’) – the competition requires athletes to run faster, throw further, jump higher and leap longer than their rivals.

Applying for a new job is a lot like that – you’re up against tough competition most of the time, with agility and strength being essential to progress. It’s part of the reason we always say that speed is of the essence – making your CV as strong as possible, and getting it in front of our clients post-haste is absolutely critical in landing the perfect job!


Basketball is an all-rounder – you need to be light on your feet despite a commanding presence, and be able to shoot for your aims from a long distance. You also need to be a strong team-player, who can work with the rest of your team to outsmart and outpace the competition.


We don’t recommend going into an interview saying that last time you were faced with a conflict at work, you knocked the other person out. This is a VERY bad interview tactic. But by all means, use the metaphor – boxers are agile, cool and unflinching, and will stand their ground to defend their goals. As with fencing, wrestling, judo and taekwondo, these guys are all about the one-on-one competition, staring their opponent down before the big fight – so if this sounds like you, you’ll be excellent in face-to-face interviews. Just remember it’s a metaphor.


At the Olympics, there are actually two canoeing events – the Slalom, and the Sprint. The former requires precision and focus, combined with utter bravery against the white water rapids, as you weave in and out of obstacles towards your goal. The Sprint, on the other hand, is about speed and power – an unflinching, unbridled focus across still water at a very fast pace. Each one represents a very different type of person – either you’re focused on overcoming obstacles in trying circumstances, or you’re looking to get to where you’re going – and fast.


Cycling in the Olympics comes in many forms – some old, some very new. For instance, BMX cycling requires some pretty impressive skills of agility and control across jumps, bumps, and around tight corners. As the most recent discipline added to the Olympic Games, BMX cyclists are innovative and unconventional – and not afraid to redefine the Olympic tradition.

Track cyclists are lightning fast and ultra-focused, with the games testing their speed, endurance and teamwork. As Cactus favourite Chris Hoy has recently shown, the ability to swiftly outpace and outmanoeuvre the competition can bring victory back from the brink – the sort of challenge these guys thrive on.

With road cycling, we’re going to hand this one over to the London 2012 site again:

Great stamina, astute strategy and powerful acceleration are essential to success, with teamwork also playing a big part.

If that sounds like you, you’re probably a strong leader with fantastic management skills – so modelling yourself on an Olympic Cyclist is a pretty safe bet!


These guys have breathtaking gymnastic skills, combined with a no-fear approach that lets them fly. Cool, calm and collected, with an ability to remain controlled and disciplined even whilst falling through the air. If you’re flexible, brave, and frankly pretty cool, these skills will go a long way in furthering your career.

Synchronised Swimming

This is all about grace under pressure, using pinpoint precision and immense stamina alongside your team so that you’re seamlessly integrated with one another. This is a fantastic skill for management professionals who like to get the best out of those around them through motivation and coaching – and the ability to have such a smoothly run team is a real draw in this industry.

Table Tennis

Lightning-fast reflexes and attention to detail is a must in table tennis – as well as the ability to predict what your opponent will do before they know themselves! These skills will make you an excellent bet at sussing out the competition in your market, local area, and so on – meaning that you’ll always be ahead of the game.

That’s our selection – do you have any other sports you’d like to see in this list? And what management inspiration have you gathered from the coming Olympics?

Related Posts:

Which Leadership Archetype Are You?

How to Reduce Stress in Your Call Centre… And How the CEOs Relax!

Cactus Search is the leading provider of Call and Contact Centre Management candidates to some of the most prestigious companies in the UK and Internationally.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s