Strategic Lessons

Wimbledon is more than a sports event – it’s a cultural phenomenon that defines British summer. And what’s more, it has plenty of interesting lessons for business leaders and entrepreneurs. Let’s take a closer look at some strategic lessons and rules we can all take away from Centre Court:

1. Keep your eye on the prize

Every player knows their personal motivation to win and has their eye firmly fixed on the prize. Their focus on winning the prize is all-consuming and powerful enough to drive them through the hardest times in their careers.

Similarly in business, we need clear goals that drive our entire organisation’s direction – goals that inspire and galvanise every person in the business to achieve their own fullest potential.

2. Work harder, smarter and longer

When you’re playing to win, every athlete expects to work harder, smarter and longer than their competitors. This means researching your direct competition to understand their play techniques, strokes, speed and favourite move. It means pinpointing their weak areas to identify moments of vulnerability that can be exploited on the court.

It means training for absolute peak fitness, being serious about nutrition, supplementation and recovery, and going to bed long before the parties and fun times finish – because nothing matters more than winning that prize. The world’s best tennis players, in common with the world’s best athletes, entrepreneurs and sports people, are hugely disciplined, driven and motivated individuals who are prepared to work harder than everyone else. They show up when they are tired, when the weather is bad, when they have been beaten and when things are going badly in other areas of their life. They can also drown out distractions to focus with a laser-like degree of intensity on their desired goal.

For businesses looking to succeed in tightly competitive markets, this focus, dedication and unwavering commitment to excellence is a fast track to seeing results.

3. Be strategic

Every player has a strategy – for their next match, their next season and for their career. In fact, strategic play is the key to career longevity and success. For example, some matches will be played at complete intensity with full resources employed, and others will be played at just the right level to achieve the desired result. Players will work with their coaches to create strategies that work around their strengths, their play schedule and their ultimate goal – particularly when multiple tournaments are being played in an intensive season.

Without these strategic lessons, it’s all too easy to fail. consider the amateur player that goes all out on a qualifying match to impress the crowds – then finds that they simply lack the energy to play at full intensity for the next round of the competition.

Without a strategy, even the best intentions will fail. The same certainly applies in business. Without a clear strategy, we are all ‘busy fools’ just chasing the next set of quarterly results or immediate ‘priority’!

4. Get your tactics right

From the strategy comes the tactics. Wimbledon players have specific tactics to employ at every match. They visualise their next play, endlessly practice their serves and returns, and know several shots ahead what they intend to do in every situation. Whether they are working to tire their partner through powerful rallies or to deliver the finest possible serve, their tactics are designed to achieve the overall strategy of winning – and they are trained and delivered to perfection.

Businesses also need to learn strategic lessons on delivering excellent tactics, on time, to quality standards and with the desired results. Tactics deliver the strategy over time through cumulative results.

5. Choose the right coach and support team

All Wimbledon champions acknowledge that their success comes with a team. The winner may look like an individual on the court, but he or she is supported by a head coach, supporting coach, physiotherapist, nutritionist, personal trainer… the list goes on!

In business, we see the same reality. Our success can only be achieved through the skills, accomplishments and dedication of the team around us. And smart leaders always acknowledge this.

6. Evaluate your performance

Players constantly evaluate their performance, often reviewing tactics frame by frame in playback videos under review from their coach. In business, our success can only be measured with the right KPIs and a structured reporting methodology that allows us to know if our efforts and outputs are taking us in the right direction. As with athletes, we can only succeed if we know where we are currently falling short – so we can implement rapid remedial measures.

7. Remember the fans!

Great Wimbledon stars are always remembered for their charisma, passion and love of tennis – and they are invariably generous, warm and communicative with their fans and, by default, the media that celebrates their successes.

In business, we can apply the same philosophy to our own ‘fans’ – or customers and other stakeholders. If we treat our customers well and communicate with them regularly, wholly and with warmth and respect, they will be far more inclined to remain loyal to our business. This also links into the vital notion of values – businesses with strong values and ethics, like great athletes, are far more respected for their achievements and celebrated when they when.

As business people and entrepreneurs we can do well to model ourselves on the passion, work ethic, tenacity and unwavering dedication shown by Wimbledon’s finest. Yes, we might never hit a serve on Centre Court, but we can emulate the same degree of success in our field by learning the right strategic lessons!