Women at the Top:
Leadership Skills Developed by Sport



The first female Head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde; former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and even US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton all have something in common that helps them get to the top. What’s that you say? Well, they play big and they play sports.

As a matter of fact, the new working landscape is not only characterised by the important leadership roles of women in such organisations but also by their connection with sports. Sport has become a platform to conquer gender equality and empower women and girls along their way to professional success – just look at the latest research conducted by EY and espnW.

94% of women in the C-Suite played sports

At Stylight, we cherish gender equality and can count over 60,7% of women as part of the team and spread out in the different departments such as the Apps team, Business Development and Branding Content, which in turn enables us to make style happen!


But exactly what kind of leadership skills are developed through sport? And as well as that, how can Stylight and like-minded companies benefit from them?

Top leadership skills developed by sport

1. Team building

One word, teamwork! Last Sunday Ronaldo was not only THE man but one part of a wider and greater team who lead Portugal to Euro 2016 victory! So like in football, teamwork is an essential skill needed to foster collaborations in the workplace, as well as move the team forward. EY’s report confirms the trend stating ‘72% of women executives agree that individuals with a background in sports participates more effectively within workplace teams’. Determination and leveraging a strong work ethic? Minor but also major benefits of women in the workplace with a sporting background.

2. Decision making

On your marks, get set, GO! Throwing a pass or shooting the ball are decisions which must be made quickly and strategically. This unique ability to rapidly process information is developed with thanks to playing sports and carrying out strategies which eventually lead the team to winning. This reactivity is key to coming up with business corporations, as Anna Grazioli, Business Development Manager Italy at Stylight explains:

‘The worst business decision you can make is making no decision at all’ (by John Peace). Like in sport, in terms of business negotiations it’s fundamental to trust yourself and be confident, committed and persistent. It never gets easier, you just get better. Another piece of advice: stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.

3. Communication

Sports, especially those played in teams, involves two or more people working together towards one shared goal which therefore enables efficient communications skills. First off ideas are passed on in the most productive and quickest way possible, but secondly and perhaps more importantly, successful communication promotes winning and convincing ideas, which in turn motivate a team to outperform. Joëlle Homberger, Lead PR & Communications Manager at Stylight:

I’m passionate about running and even though I love to go by myself to sort through my thoughts and discover new ideas, I enjoy it even more with company. Because even trained runners have those days where their muscles are sore, it’s raining like crazy or there’s some other form of big motivation killer. You can pull yourself out of that, however you really travel out of your comfort zone when you have someone with you motivating you – ‘Let’s do this together, we’re not giving up yet’. And the drive that you get from your counterpart will always help you to strive to outperform and to push yourself to the limit. This I also transpire into my business life – motivating my team is part of my daily communication and leads us to becoming greater every day together.

4. Discipline

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most. No matter if it’s in the pitch or in workplace, athletes and leaders are not perfect. They work hard to get over their weaknesses, improve and inevitably develop new skills. This attitude creates a winning mindset which can lead the team to the success! In fact, 3/4 interviewees at EY state that “It’s OK to want to win”, considering self-discipline and competitiveness as positive assets. Christina Ilchmann, Stylight’s Picture Editor confirms:

As soon as there is one thing (for instance a bike race you want to compete in or further training at work) you want to do but find yourself always finding excuses not to – start to commit by telling to all your friends and colleagues! This can help support you to not quit at half the way point. Why? Because people will keep asking you ‘how is the bike training going?’ or ‘what about your coding workshop?’, sometimes you forget about your own motivation and here friends can totally help you. In terms of discipline, for me, it’s not only about self-control. People, especially women, keep setting their goals too low, so really in the end it’s nice to have some support (mentally or physically) along the way, and together it is always much more fun!

These top 4 leadership skills developed through the practice of sports are emphasised by the boost in confidence in women. The experience of not just winning but also losing develops professionals and makes them more avid to taking risks and eager to become successful.

Ready to take the next step into the new generation of women in leadership?


|By Verónica Cobos Sánchez – PR & Communications Manager Spain|

Image Source: Unsplash


Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.