Insight article

The Olympics: pride, inspiration, engagement and great performance

The Olympics have been over for just over 24 hours and I’m already experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You couldn’t be anything but awe-struck at the monumental spectacle that Beijing has produced over the past fortnight. Terrific performances by so many athletes from so many countries, superb TV coverage (well done the BBC), incredible opening and closing ceremonies in an iconic venue, and flawless execution by the organisers.

How do we Brits feel? Well, speaking for myself, the words ‘proud’ ‘engaged’ and ‘inspired’ come to mind. Proud to be associated with an Olympic team that did brilliantly, and proud to be hosting the next Olympics in 2012. Inspired, not simply to get on my bike and go pedalling but to give even more support and encouragement to the youth who will be competing in 2012. I think the whole country will be feeling the same way, perhaps with a slight apprehension that it just won’t compare to 2008. We have to hope that more young people will be inspired to take up a sport or excel at it in a way that they hadn’t wanted before.

You also have to wonder how our Olympic team (and those of the best performing countries) were feeling watching their fellow competitors win medals time and time again, and whether that impacted on their own sense of pride and purpose as they went into their own competitions. If they were inspired and feeling positive as the great results kept flowing through, could that have influenced their own performance? Did living together in the Olympic Village help encourage and inspire their fellow competitors who had yet to complete their own Olympic journey? Did Ben Ainslie’s success inspire Tom Daley, consciously or sub-consciously? Did the joy of Bryony Shaw or Chris Hoy somehow filter into the psyche of others competitors before their own event?

Pride, euphoria, joy and positive thinking can only help inspire others. As we bounce back to work (think positive, folks) after the long summer weekend, we may not necessarily be experiencing euphoria or joy, but positive thinking and pride in our co-workers, our respective brands and organisations will almost certainly have an impact on our performance. And here’s the message for business leaders: It’s not just understanding and engagement in strategy and vision that will improve productivity and performance, but a fundamental pride and sense of purpose that will motivate and inspire people. Mix this together and you will have a truly energised, powered and committed workforce. Start telling some stories that make people proud.

So the Olympics are over and lots of people return to work after the summer tomorrow morning. Hey ho. No more gold medals to be won for now, but perhaps the odd person will take to the bicycle, and a few inspirational stories will start to flow…

Nailia Tasseel