As leaders in the sports industry, we’ve all been dealing with uncertainty in recent months as we navigate a range of unknowns related to the coronavirus pandemic. When faced with unprecedented scenarios for which we are relatively unprepared, a lack of prior experience and available reference points can make it difficult to understand potential risks and outcomes.
In a 2013 TechCrunch article, the venture capital investor Aileen Lee used the term ‘Unicorn’ to describe the rarity of privately held startups with valuations of over $1 billion. Since then the term has been adopted to describe anything that proves to be rare and magical across a broad range of disciplines.
As with the mythical beast, a Unicorn leader is considered to be so rare and to possess such magical powers that it becomes an iconic entity to be pursued at any cost. And therein lies the problem – at any cost. Magical leaders come at a price both financially and organizationally.
As elite sports prepare to make a return, they do so not only against the backdrop of a global pandemic but also unprecedented social unrest. Despite the huge amount of planning that has gone into the safe return of competition, these exceptional circumstances have seen a number of athletes express understandable concerns over returning to play on medical and/or social grounds.
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, senior leaders in the sports industry have been attending Sportsology’s roundtable discussions to speak about their experiences of managing organizations through the pandemic, with communication being a frequent topic of conversation.
For many, securing a senior front office job with a sports organization is the result of decades of hard work and the realization of a long-held dream. However, it’s not uncommon for the pressures of the job to prove a significant challenge to those who take on such roles without a clear game plan for managing the intense scrutiny and expectation.