Simone Biles won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. But many think she delivered a gold medal performance for the way she faced a series of personal challenges during the Games and set important examples for business leaders—and the world.
Simone Biles won a bronze medal Tuesday at the balance beam final at the Tokyo Olympics. But many think she delivered a gold medal performance throughout the Games for how she faced a series of personal challenges and set the following examples for business leaders—and the world.
John C. Simmons, chief marketing officer of InboxAlly, noted that, “When Biles said she didn’t want to risk the team [of] a medal because of her screwups, that was a great leadership lesson. In an office setting, that action empowers others to take on responsibilities. After all, just because you are a leader doesn’t mean you should do everything yourself.”
Overcome Short-Term Thinking
Martha L. Sullivan, president of Provenance Hill Consulting, said Biles “is giving America’s corporate leaders a lesson in how to overcome short-term thinking in their organizations and what teamwork is at its core: Redefining the win. Ms. Biles understood what was at stake, for herself, her colleagues, and her team.
“Conventional corporate wisdom would advise sucking it up and focusing on meeting everyone else’s expectations for her to win. By exercising her personal expertise and experience and by stepping aside, she demonstrated a different strategy that would elevate the team and mitigate the risk. Situations and circumstances change quickly in athletics and business,” she said.
Sullivan noted that, “Our ability to acknowledge the perils in an evolving situation is crucial to understanding the stakes and how to adapt. Ms. Biles accomplished this task in record time, redefining the opportunities for the team winning on the fly.”
Joe Szynkowski runs The UpWrite Group, a strategic communications firm. He noted that, “Leaders too often hold on to their ideals or decisions with an iron fist. What if a better idea comes along? We are all entitled to change our minds, just as Biles decided to compete in the balance beam final a few days after seemingly shutting it down. Executive decision-makers should be firm in their philosophies, but flexible enough to adapt when the time comes.”
Tune Out The Noise
“Social media has erupted with both positive and negative chatter surrounding Biles’ decision. In the end, it’s just that: Chatter. Executives need to tune out the noise when it comes to making choices regarding their company or their own personal career moves. We can lose ourselves trying to make everyone happy,” Szynkowski observed.
Know Your Limits
Zero Gap founder and women’s leadership advocate Jacqueline V. Twillie said Biles, “has demonstrated the power of knowing your limits; as a peak performer, she can raise the bar and has a reputation for setting new records. Yet, even with her success, she doesn’t allow her ego to stand in the way of the team’s potential.
“By stepping aside [from earlier contests at the Tokyo Olympics], Simone provided an opportunity for teammates to step into the spotlight. Her insight into managing her mindset teaches leaders to step aside and step back in despite any external noise. Leaders can take a page from Simone’s book, block out the noise, and make difficult decisions for the greater good,” Twillie said.
Empathize And Connect
Career coach Michelle Enjoli said, “The biggest leadership lessons that Simone Biles is providing business executives at the Tokyo Olympics centers around empathy and connectivity. Successful leaders are people centered and develop a connection with the people whom they lead.
“Connected leadership is one where business leaders remain present and engaged. In Simone’s case, it can be hard to disconnect and expect her to be at the top of her game mentally and physically and just win.
“As humans, that is not always possible and therefore the need for empathy and connection is essential. The ability to actively listen, engage in open dialogue and have hard conversations are all great lessons that business leaders should focus on in their businesses. When overlooked, that disconnect can lead to undesirable consequences like a long-term decline in productivity, creativity, engagement and employee retention,” she counseled.
Prioritize Mental Health
Jenny Dearborn is the chief people officer at Klaviyo and former chief talent officer at SAP. She said, “Companies need to take a lesson from Biles and realize that mental health should be top of mind. There’s been a huge focus on the “great resignation” caused by Covid, but what employers fail to realize is that employees are resigning not because they are unhappy with their jobs, but because they are experiencing post-Covid PTSD, This response puts a spotlight on mental health and the therapy that we need collectively as a society due to Covid.
“The best employers are the ones that give their employees mental space and resources to deal with this unprocessed trauma. Employers need to be checking in with people frequently, ramping up mental health services, hiring HR business partners and putting them through training to recognize symptoms of mental health burnout and workforce PTSD.”
8/3/21 – The story was updated with information about the bronze medal Biles won on Tuesday.