On Monday evening (February 28) I had the privilege of meeting Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (LOCOG), to discuss the business of the 2012 Olympics before an audience of fellow graduate students at London Business School.
As a former Olympic athlete myself (Barcelona, 1992), I was intrigued to hear first hand his story of transformation from competitive athlete to businessman and how the skills he developed as an athlete have served him throughout his professional career, and now as chairman of LOCOG. The themes of vision, values and focus stood out.
In his charismatic and easy manner he emphasized the importance of focusing on the basics - to make sure you stay true to your values - and that you develop and maintain a clear vision for what you want to achieve. Without a clear vision, it is very hard to find direction and much harder to persuade others to follow or understand what you are trying to achieve. And that is especially true when you are driving a project as large, complex and as iconic as the Olympic Games - an occasion where the equivalent of 26 world championships, involving thousands of athletes across multiple venues, are conducted simultaneously!
Another key point for me was his view on making sure that you have the right team around you to work collaboratively to achieve the goals you have set. Obviously that started early for Seb as he worked tirelessly with his coach, his father, to run just that bit faster in each race. He has taken that emphasis on teamwork with him to LOCOG.
His infectious enthusiasm for the Olympics and for ensuring that the London Games have an enduring legacy and positive impact on as many local communities throughout the UK as possible - and in particular inspiring more children to become more active in sport was obvious. I for one will be signing up for tickets and await the London 2012 Olympic Games with ever increasing enthusiasm!