Resilience and Winning in Business
Olympic athletes Moe Sbihi and Emma Finucane delved into the essence of resilience in business, its correlation with success and how it shapes leaders to confront varied challenges.
Resilience is the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from set-backs. It is a necessary ingredient within the instructions of how to build the ideal C-suite leader; and given the amount of domestic and international challenges facing business leaders today—from an energy crisis, supply chain tensions, a restructuring of the globalised world order, AI, and climate change—resilience in business may be the single most important skill for leaders to master in 2024.
In this context, resilience in business becomes the cornerstone for effective leadership. It is not just a skill; it is a strategic imperative.
It was only right then for HotTopics to welcome two British sports stars, world championship and Olympic gold-medal-winning athletes, to open The Studio, on what resilience means to them in the face of success, failure and everything in between.
HotTopics Editor Peter Stojanovic was joined on stage by Moe Sbihi and Emma Finucane, the three-time Olympian and Olympic medal winner and the British and Welsh track cyclist, respectively.
Watch now—Olympians Panel: World Record Holders on Resilience and Winning
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Success, fresh from the track
The younger of the two panellists, Emma was the star of the 2023 British Cycling National Track Championships, after she won four national titles. At the 2023 UCI World track cycling championships in Glasgow she claimed her first major title as she took gold in the women's track sprint competition. She was also part of the British Women's Team sprint team who took silver in the same competition.
It was a stunning set of achievements from the twenty-year-old, but as she explained, it is far more than just her win.
“It’s a big team effort,” she told Peter, and the live audience. “I worked hard to train with the girls and of course with my coach, who was hugely important. I learned so much about myself and it was a really special moment in my career.”
Success, the view from afar
Moe’s career and story is richer, in part due to his longer experience as an Olympian.
He is a three-time Olympian and Olympic medal winner. At the 2016 Rio Olympics he won a gold medal in the coxless four, which was a welcome win following his previous podium finish at the 2012 London Olympics where he won bronze, in the men's eight. He returned to the eight for the 2020 Tokyo games, again winning bronze.
Candid in his reflections, Moe was disappointed in his 2012 showing; but it only strengthened his resolve to bounce back on the other side of the world, in Rio.
“In 2012 we were winning, and then all of a sudden we almost missed bronze by inches,” he recalled. “That drove me on for four years—it gave me a vision. We trained 49 weeks of the year, three times a day, four days a week.”
His pride in fellow athlete, Emma, was evident, and both were quick to cite resilience as an attribute upon which they both rely—and practice.
“You can’t turn up and be an Olympian on the day,” said Moe. “Resilience allows you to back it up with a foundation of effort, of turning up day after day, during the good days and bad.”
Resilience in business is not just a concept; it's a lived experience for these athletes, shaping their mindset and approach to success and challenges.
Resilience in the face of adversity
Emma, too, has experienced the bittersweetness of a podium finish that didn’t quite meet expectations. It is a feeling most other humans cannot empathise with, but a fairly well documented emotion amongst star athletes.
“During the team sprint we lost out on gold by 0.06 seconds,” Emma said. “I’ve since learned how I can keep my confidence high despite what happens on the day.” (She went on to win gold in the single sprint after.)
Her advice for how to learn from a win?
“You can turn decisions into processes of how to win, rather than ‘that I need to win’. It’s easier to control and work with them.”
Moe’s advice centred more on the gut instinct that the average person neglects.
“I was sitting in a boat with three other men and 30 other competitors, heart pounding, an out of body experience,” he reflected. “But the moment the buzzer went I knew we were going to win because I trusted them and we were in control.”
When resilience, practice, teamwork and confidence come together, that is when the magic happens.
Emma and Moe were the opening speakers for The Studio, HotTopics’ industry event for the technology C-suite. Discover more about these unmissable days full of exclusive panel discussions and executive networking, at the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London, here.
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