Leadership Lesson

Leadership Lesson: #Rio2016 Female Athletes

Smash the Sports Glass Ceiling

 The 2016 Summer Olympics provided a strong platform where women, specifically women of color, smashed the sports glass-ceiling. From winning first-ever gold medals to defending titles, female athletes dominated the games and represented their countries. The unprecedented feats that women achieved during this year’s games speaks volumes to the leadership lesson that each Olympian demonstrated. It is a known fact that women are held to higher standards when stepping outside of typical gender roles. And, our level of perseverance, resilience, strength and risk tolerance must be equal to or surpass that of our male counterparts. Thank you female leaders of #Rio2016.  You personify the qualities of a great leader.

Leadership Lesson 1 – Shaunae Miller

Bajan runner, Shaunae Miller, dove across the finish line to defeat America-favorite, Allyson Felix. Miller won Olympic gold in the 400m race. Outrage ensued. Was not this never-before seen winning-tactic allowed? Despite the dive being perfectly legal, many people beieve that Miller cheated Felix with an unethical decision to dive for gold.

Leadership Lesson: Leaders frequently make business decisions that are not always favorable with employees, vendors or even clients. When asked whether the move intentional, Miller replied, “What was in my mind was I had to get a gold medal. The next thing I knew I was on the ground.” Leadership is knowing when to trust your instincts, even if the decision to move forward may be unorthodox. The goal is to get the gold.

Leadership Lesson 2 – Claressa Shields

 Flint, Michigan’s own Claressa Shields set her sights on Rio after winning 2012 gold during the London games. Despite growing up in extreme adversity – hunger, rape and molestation, Shields pushed through. She credits her faith in God with guiding her to become the first male or female athlete to win back-to-back Olympic gold in boxing.

Leadership Lesson: Leaders must be able to step up and push through challenges even when they feel alone. Vision, strategy, gut feelings and action help great leaders push forward, pivot or stand down. Great leaders always safeguard the integrity of their companies and their brands.

Leadership Lesson 3 – Rafaela Lopes Silva 

Brazil’s Rafaela Lopes Silva pushed passed internal and external obstacles, returned to the 2016 Olympic games  and won the first-ever gold medal for Brazil in judo. Silva, a native of the Brazilian-favela, City of God,  wad disgraced in the 2012 Olympic games for a newly-instituted illegal hold. She overcame extreme racism and sexism, fought depression and broke through every roadblock set in her path. She never gave up.

Leadership Lesson: Silva reminds us that defeat is an opportunity to learn, rebuild and come back with a vengeance. Female leaders-of-color regularly face jealousy, misunderstanding, sexism and racism. We also however, constantly persevere, adjust and move forward. Rafaela’s Olympic victory is a perfect example of how a leaders should remain tenacious.

Corporate professionals generally serve as leadership examples. The women of #Rio2016 however, prove that leadership is not just evidenced in business. Leadership is exhibited and experienced inside and outside of the boardroom. Miller, Shields and Silva exemplify the definition of effective leadership. Their leadership lessons don’t come from business schools, trade associations or internship programs. These Olympic leaders prove the power of instinct, self-confidence and tenacity.  Good leadership benefits the company, the brand and the team.

Another tip from your Marketing Mama.

Cheryl McCants

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