Canada on the World Stage: Drawing Leadership Inspiration from the 2018 Winter Olympics

Canada on the World Stage

Drawing Leadership Inspiration from the 2018 Winter Olympics

Global impact. Grit. Inspiration. Leadership. Perseverance. 

They all apply to Canadian organisations – and Canadian athletes.

With the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics happening this month, it is an exciting time to reflect on Canada’s position on the world stage. Just like our businesses, our athletic teams consistently punch above their weight and emphasize the qualities that make Canada a great place to live, learn, and work.

The Olympics are always a great opportunity to focus on performing faster, stronger, and better. They can be a fantastic source of inspiration. The narrative element that carries through so much of the programming can provide a lens that extends beyond sport and appeals to the universal humanity that connects us all. The stories and impressive athleticism on display can also directly apply to leaders and high performers around the world.

Innovation is evident throughout the event. It is on display in the specialised apparel worn by medalists and the advanced gear used for many winter sports. Behind the scenes, it is used in the athletes’ unique approaches to funding their training, and committing mentally, physically, and emotionally to the training itself, even against the odds. The diverse stories shared in conjunction with each race, heat, or program reflect the innovation and resilience that must take place at an individual level to become the best. To “Be virtuous. Be victorious. Be Olympic.”


Olympics athletes offer impressive models for success beyond physical ability.

4 Olympic Qualities to Embody in Your Work

Beyond the pride and awe, draw inspiration from the 2018 Winter Olympics and consider how you can embody the qualities of athletes in your life and work.


Having an off day is okay — having a day off is not. Planning, training, studying, and pushing through roadblocks make the performances we see in PyeongChang possible. To excel in any role or field, commitment must be evident in your work ethic and approach to collaboration. Stay the course and lead by example. The results are never guaranteed, but if you can get comfortable being uncomfortable, you can face unpredictable changes and new information in a way that is grounded in experience and unafraid of innovation.

Decision Making

When you are watching an event, consider how many choices an athlete must make every second. From movement to strategy to creative improvisation, there are countless factors that result in constant decision making. How do they do it so confidently? See ‘Dedication’ above and consider how your approach to decision making – whether on display or behind the scenes – can be a source of confidence, reassurance, and creativity for your team. Even if the outcomes are uncertain, your ability to steer the ship with a clear vision can empower your people to do their best work.

Risk Taking

It may look easy from the sidelines, but the extreme nature of the sports on display can not be understated. Split second decisions, countless variables, and unpredictable risk characterize many of the events. When was the last time you took a risk at work? Your role may not be quite as extreme, but taking risks is the best way to drive meaningful change and innovate. It could be as easy as committing to asking the next ‘risky’ question that comes to mind or being bold enough to start a new initiative not directly tied to your KPIs.


Behind the incredible medalists are coaches, trainers, medics, teams, and communities. The athletes may appear front and centre this week, oftentimes alone, but a lot of their time is spent listening and absorbing the knowledge, advice, and expertise of others. To shine in your role as a leader, or in any position, understanding when to listen and ask for help is the best way to excel. You demonstrate a desire to learn and grow while elevating the profile of your team and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to contribute.


Just like the athletes, leaders need to learn, evolve, and train to offer the strongest perspective and strategize with the most bold and informed decision making possible. 

No country is immune to global forces of change. No industry remains static. No organisation can afford to risk of inaction. No leader can be complacent.

As Canadian athletes demonstrate our talent and integrity, leaders across the country can take notes to enhance their own approach. Some creative inspiration and a universal mindset will ensure Canadians continue to own the podium when it comes to innovation and the transforming global economy.

Go Canada Go!

Share how you are inspired by the 2018 Olympics and join the Canadian innovation conversation with #SUCanada #ExponentialCanada.