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Wimbledon week - what can business leaders learn from tennis?

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Tennis player

It’s the start of Wimbledon and as an avid tennis fan myself I’ll certainly be tuning in to the live coverage over the next two weeks. Aside from watching the drama on court and hopefully picking up some tips from the professionals, there are also a few HR lessons we can take away.

It’s important to consider that the key statistic that determines whether you win or lose in tennis isn’t the percentage of successful first serves. Focusing on aces alone will never win the match. It’s consistency of play and the number of unforced errors you make that really matters.

The same is true for business, whilst you might gain the edge with an innovative idea, if you want to remain ahead of the competition, you’ll need to minimise unnecessary errors. It’s inevitable that mistakes will be made, but the key to long-term success is in the consistency of decisions you make as a leader.

A key part of this is having a strategy and setting a clear vision. Most athletes are told to visualise the process of achieving their goals, often closing their eyes and imaging the process of winning, generating complete illusions of movements, feelings and even scents and sounds.

If you apply this to your own position as a business leader this is how you gain both clarity and perspective. Do more than just write your goals, put all of your senses into it. Ask yourself more than just what does this look like?” Think about “What will this feel like for both your customer’s and your employees – physically and emotionally?" Ask yourself, “How will you communicate this, what will your reactions be, what will happen around you?”

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is a brand that lives and breathes its values and the iconic Wimbledon Championships are no exception; exporting traditional British values to a mass modern global audience.

The vision and values of an organisation should be embedded consistently from top to bottom so that they are reflected in the conduct and performance of all employees. Wimbledon is emblematic of a brand in which the values are lived and breathed. On court, the conduct of the umpires’ and players’ broadcasts the brand’s key values worldwide, for example, the Players are addressed appropriately, bad language or behaviour is censured or fined, and there is a strict dress code – determining even the colour of underwear (white).

The LTA make their values clearly visible on their website and underpin Wimbledon’s values, reflecting them not only in the rules, regulations, ethics and conduct for all tennis in Britain, but also in the way all members of its staff behave.

The LTA also hold focus groups to gather feedback from across the business and brief employees in small groups, to make sure team values are being communicated.

Good HR systems should align your company’s vision and values throughout the entire employee lifecycle, from introductions to your values as part of the recruitment stage through to capturing performance against these values as part of formal review processes and exit interviews.

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