Congratulations on your article ‘Home Team Advantage’ in the September issue. Over the past 12 months the New Zealand Cricket Players Association has been designing professional development programme for our cricketers and many of the messages in the article are principles of the programme.
One of the main parts of our programme is business coaching network that has around 75 individual business people working with cricketers to help them recognise their existing skill-sets and how and why these attributes might be valuable in the workplace upon transition. One aim of this process is longer-term: to increase the confidence and awareness of players around their own transition and ensure they take on targeted and well-informed professional development at the right time of their career. The other main aim is shorter-term: for players to learn from business key skills that are necessary for high performance sport. This learning opportunity – ‘reverse’ transferability – is particularly important for leadership development where business offers an incredibly rich resource for our players.
The key issue we found in our research for the programme, and one which might add to the discussion in the article, is that most players did not have strong understanding of business and many had little experience of corporate culture or workplaces in general. This certainly didn’t mean that there was limited skill base (in fact, often the opposite when one considers attributes developed through sport such as teamwork, self-discipline, self-reflection, result and outcome focus). It did mean, however, that many players lacked confidence around their longer-term transition and consequently were less inclined to actively engage the question and process of transition. Therefore, the key challenge in our programme was not how to convince business of an athlete’s value proposition but to convince the athlete himself.
In responding to this environment and the broader question in the article of why New Zealand is not succeeding in transitioning athletes to the business world, I believe the solution lies to some extent in how well we currently align business and the professional development of athletes. Education and certification alone will not solve the key challenge that we found with our players: how to build their business awareness and confidence to engage the question of transition. I believe this will come about through long-term mentoring relationships between athletes and smart, innovative professionals. Through this type of alignment we hope athletes will develop confidence, skill-set and business network relevant for immediate high performance, long-term transition and the future leadership of New Zealand’s most innovative companies.
•Aidan Hobson, Career and Personal Development Manager, New Zealand Cricket Players Association
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