… and cycle into first place
Tour De France leader Bradley Wiggins has just won the tournament this year and he’s a one-man tour de force as regards good manners and sportsmanship too. So much so that the French call him ‘le gent’ and he’s gained a huge French fan base, particularly amongst les madams et les filles.
He politely neutralised the peloton earlier in the week (in other words got everyone in the leading group to slow down a bit) to let a disadvantaged competitor catch up and it caused a media storm, effectively putting sportsmanship at the top of the agenda just before the Olympics kick off. Perfect timing. Well done that man.
Business is often portrayed as a cut-throat affair but as I mentioned in a recent post, being helpful and co-operative has a bigger impact in the long run. There are only so many people you can walk over before your supply of trusting minions runs out. But what does sportsmanship mean, exactly, in a small business context?
Sportsmanship in business
Sportsmanship covers the virtues of fairness, self-control, courage and persistence. Applying it to business:
- It isn’t sportsmanlike to beat fellow small business owners down on price ‘til they pop, but paying a fair price for a job well done generates good long-term business relationships
- Taking defeat well is a classic. In a business context it means taking difficult stuff on the chin. Sore losers need not apply. It might not benefit your bottom line per se, but being mellow when you lose customers or miss out on lucrative contracts means you’ll be in a much better frame of mind to move ahead positively – and you won’t keep tripping over your massive bottom lip.
- Bad winners are just as much of a pain in the nether region as poor losers. When you’re communicating about your business, go easy on the trumpet blowing. People don’t want to know how great you are. They want to know how you can help them
- It’s rare to run across rudeness, but when you ‘nice’ rude people into submission they often turn into loyal advocates. Lay on the charm and be firm and fair under the severest provocation and you’ll also maintain the moral high ground. Which feels damn good
- Wikipedia characterises one aspect of good sportsmanship as ‘having an enduring and relatively stable characteristic or disposition’. In business terms it’s all about consistency. Let’s face it, Jekyl and Hyde would have made crap businessmen. People like to know what to expect. Inconsistent communications make people nervous. Keep them under control, using the same ‘voice’ across everything you send out
- You won’t get where you want to be by being farty. The people who grab opportunities, test new ideas and generally go where no man or woman has gone before tend to come out the winners
As long as you act toward others in an honest, straightforward, firm and dignified manner and respect them whatever part they play in your business world, you’ll be in a good place. I’m tempted to finish off by saying ‘go for gold’ but there’s only so much cheese a blog post can take… you get the message!