Career Resources

Everything I need to know about management I learned at the school fete

Everything I need to know about management I learned at the school fete

By The Good Jobs Team, 08 May 2017

Leadership advice Communicating at work Enhancing your career The social sector

Famous sportspeople often make a post-playing career out of delivering inspiring talks to business folk on the similarities between Sport and Life. What would they know about it? Top athletes compete under conditions that bear very little resemblance to the normal work environment. When they're on the field everybody knows the rules, everybody is better than average at what they do, and everybody's motivated to do their best.

If management is like sport at all, it's much more like the more basic forms of competition - the kind of sports that you see at a school fete.

1. Egg-and-spoon race

You have to move to your goal as fast as you can while maintaining the integrity of your basic values. There are several ways to lose, and you can't afford to get ahead of yourself. Enthusiasm is good, up to the point it affects judgement.

2. Sack race

You're competing within a tight resource envelope, and trying to take big strides without taking account of that is a sure way to end up flat on your face. Be aware of the constraints on your activities.

3. Three-legged race

You and your co-worker may both be demon sprinters, but unless you forget about that and concentrate on communicating your intentions and coordinating your actions, all you'll do is run in circles. Individual talent is useful only when it learns to work well with others.

4. Wheelbarrow race

In the not-for-profit sector you're often travelling a bumpy course in a vehicle you wouldn't have chosen for yourself under circumstances where you have to trust whoever's moving it along. Throwing your weight around just leads to disaster and recriminations.

5. Lucky dip

The future isn't entirely knowable, and you always have to be prepared for surprises, but what comes out of the bran tub is seldom exactly what you wanted. Don't count on too much luck when doing your budgeting.

6. Musical chairs

In a climate of steadily diminishing resources, your options tend to become fewer as you go on. You have to pay close attention to sorting the signals from the background noise. And the person who ends up in the Chair at the end isn't necessarily the one you would have chosen. Using your elbows makes you enemies: sharing the prize makes you friends.

7. Cake stall

The days when you could get by on a nice light sponge with icing and sprinkles are long gone. Your cakemakers are now held to professional standards of labelling and hygiene and are probably offering vegan and gluten-free macaron towers. Standards are going up every year, and you've got to keep ahead of the pack.