4 things you can learn about your business from a Rugby World Cup Winner

My last post with Paralympian Anne Strike MBE highlighted team work, I recently met with Claire Purdy – England Rugby World Cup Winner and Sports Personality of the Year Winner. An underwriter for Zurich Insurance, Claire has spent the last 14 years juggling her career with the demands of International and Club rugby.

To reach the pinnacle of your sport, you cannot just rely on talent alone. Hard work, team work, science, skill, practice – all play their part. Here Claire has highlighted four areas where she has personally seen the lessons from competitive sports applied directly to the corporate world.

Organisation – “you have to be really organised to make sure you get your work done. Work have always been really good giving me the flexibility to train but I have made sure I was always making the most of my time in the office.  Organising 12 training sessions a week around a full time job, was tough but you find you make the most of every minute in the office – you can’t afford to coast.”

Communication – “Rugby really helps you to be able to deal with people, to be able to communicate on so many different levels with your team and coaches.  I was always competing for my place, and if you don’t communicate with your coaches then you never know how much better you could be doing.  I was constantly asking questions of the coaches, how was my performance? What can I do to get better?” How many of us regularly ask our boss for feedback on how we are doing – even fewer how many would ask our clients to tell us how we could improve our service.

Diversity –  “When you think in particular about rugby, there’s 15 of you in the team – you have all shapes and sizes and you all have a different job to do.  Playing together week in week out, you learn from each other – one person might be quicker than another but the other may be a stronger tackler.”  People have different strengths and weaknesses and diversity is good for business.  Some of us having been guilty of ‘towing the corporate line’ believing what we are doing is the best for the business when in reality a decision may need be challenged.

Know your team –  “I do think, the more you find what motivates people at work, then you will find they will be asking those questions about their career. When you are playing with people week in week out you really get to know them well.   I recently did a presentation for Zurich on my career, and chatting to people afterwards, I was struck by how many people have achieved amazing things that they had kept to themselves! We have a Masters Scottish international hockey player and another Colleague who has completed an Ironman!”