March is Women’s History Month and yesterday was International Women’s Day, but we are here to lift women up EVERY day. This time of year many companies and people are considering ways to support women and develop the next generation of female leaders.
What’s one way to do that? By supporting girls’ sports.
A study by Ernst & Young found that 94% of female C-suite executives played sports and over 50% of them played sports in college. That’s a pretty significant correlation.
As a collegiate athlete, I saw for myself the role that sports played in my development as a leader, and as a mom to 3 daughters who played sports I saw them learn:
1. How to Be a Great Teammate
Teamwork is foundational to sports and foundational to being a good employee. In order to be a great leader, yes, you have to know how to lead a team, but first, you have to learn to be a good teammate.
2. How to Lead with Confidence
As an agent, I’ve worked with many athletes and every single one of them felt fear, but you wouldn’t know it when you saw them in action. Do you know why? Because they know that in order to be great you have to take risks. They would put on their game face and run, jump, or swing into that fear in the pit of their stomachs. And when you repeatedly step into fear, you develop self-confidence.
3. How to Overcome Setbacks and Develop Resilience
In sports, when you fail it’s not game over. You have to learn to get back up and keep playing. Athletes learn from each defeat and take those lessons to prepare for the next game. They watch film, do drills, and in time they learn that failure is just feedback. The best leaders know that when there is adversity you don’t give up, you show up. That’s resilience.
4. The Power of Discipline
Practice makes perfect and while talent might get you there, discipline will keep you there. Developing the drive to get better every day is what will help take girls to the top levels of leadership.
My Challenge to Parents to Create Future Female Leaders
Sports create a platform for women to learn, grow, and develop the traits of great leadership. As parents with busy schedules and lots of demands, getting our kids to practices and games is exhausting. It is. I get it. I have three daughters. They all played sports.
But here’s the deal, the impact that it’s making has very little to do with how well they hit a golf ball or a tennis ball, or shoot a basketball. It’s everything else. So recognize the power that sports can play in the lives of young women in the world today and the way it will help them show up in the world tomorrow.
More on empowering women and girls to be leaders:
- A Letter To My Daughters— And Every Teenage Girl
- My Letter To Every Girl Who Plays Sports—and her Parents
- 12 Pieces of Advice from Game Changing Women on My Podcast
- 7 Kickass Women to Follow on Instagram
Molly Fletcher inspires leaders, teams and organizations to up their game. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Sign up to receive her newsletter, subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast, and watch her TED Talk on The Secrets to a Champion Mindset.