How leaders can learn from referees

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

The role of a rugby referee can offer valuable lessons to corporate leaders. Knowing the impact a particular decision


According to Ehlers, knowing the impact a particular decision can have - and learning lessons from your decisions - can contribute immeasurably to the successful leadership of a business.


“Leaders have to make calls instantly and the result can have a powerful financial and strategic impact. Here are some important leadership lessons business executives can take from referees:

“Rigorous focus and concentration - for 80 minutes on the rugby field you have to be in the moment in order to be effective. Focus and concentration is as important for leaders to ensure important matters are not neglected or missed in the boardroom.


“Examine and consider the consequences - just as a referee needs to consider the outcome of his decisions on the field, the manager needs to consider all the consequences of his decision towards the organisation, its employees and various stakeholders,” Ehlers said.


External interferences needed to be managed, Ehlers said, as the vocal crowd and interfering scrumhalf should not influence the decision of a referee.

“In the same way, a leader should not be influenced by interferences from negative business sentiment, the media or competitors,” Ehlers said.

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