Athletes Encouraged To Apply: A few traits athletes bring to the table

Company cultures are either built intentionally or spring up spontaneously in a vacuum. Leaving company culture to chance is a risky proposition — leaders are much better served by putting thought and planning into creating a culture that reflects their values and advances their business objectives. One core component of that process is identifying desirable traits and looking for job candidates who are a good fit.
At my company, competitiveness is a core theme, but not in the cutthroat, dog-eat-dog sense that some businesses appear to prize. We call it “team first.” For us, a competitive, team first spirit is about lifting the team up rather than knocking peers down. It’s about being willing to learn new things helping your co-workers win. For these reasons, we encourage athletes to come work with us.
It’s an unusual approach, specifically encouraging athletes to apply, perhaps particularly in the tech sector. And we have many other criteria we consider, of course, including experience and training. But we do value a competitive spirit highly, and that’s why today, a large portion of our current staff are competitive athletes, with the remaining involved in some form of competition.
What’s so great about a competitive spirit in general and athletes specifically? Here are a few traits they bring to the table that make us more competitive as a company and more harmonious as a workforce:
They’re coachable: Competitive athletes are used to taking direction from the coaching staff. They aren’t offended by suggestions for improvement and can adapt quickly to strategy changes.
They can handle rejection: Even elite-level athletes have been pulled from a game occasionally. Most understand that it’s all about making the team better at that moment and don’t take it personally.
They’re focused on success: A competitive athlete wouldn’t be a contender if she didn’t keep her eyes on the finish line. Athletes want to win and will push themselves hard to succeed.
They make excellent mentors: Athletes tend to love their sport and relish the opportunity to teach others how to excel at it. This carries over into their work lives, where they can be outstanding trainers.
They’re devoted teammates: Athletes know that each team member has a role to play, and they work hard not to let their teammates down. They tend to provide extra support in a business setting too.
Of course, not every athlete embodies all these traits, and we’re sensitive to the fact that people have various levels of physical coordination and abilities that can preclude competitive sports for some. But we do find that prospective employees who have the heart of an athlete — the competitive spirit and team focus described in these five traits — make wonderful coworkers.
So, business leaders who understand how a competitive spirit can lift a group up and managers who are looking for people who will give their all should consider these qualities when evaluating candidates for open positions. A jobseeker who competes as an athlete can bring talents and abilities to the table that will improve your company culture — and contribute to business success.