What a background in sport can teach about leading a fintech

Jarrad Hubble
Jarrad Hubble

It’s fast-paced. It’s intense. You’re part of a team. You’re also on your own. You need to be agile, strong-minded and calm. You need to make sacrifices. You need to take responsibility.

It can be isolating, but it can also be immensely rewarding.

All of the points above apply to a high-level sporting environment and leading a fast-growing fintech. While on paper you wouldn’t expect to see many parallels between the two, in reality the story is very different.

High pressure and high expectations: a lesson in resilience

Two games truly unique in their own right, Australian rules football and cricket, have been a significant part of my life since I was a child growing up in Australia.

My father toured South Africa with the Australia cricket team in 1966, having been recognised for his performances for Western Australia in Perth. Following somewhat in his footsteps, I was fortunate enough to represent Western Australia in cricket and play professional Australian rules football until injury curtailed my career at the age of 25.

Being brought up in that high-performance environment taught me a great deal about what it takes to perform at the highest level. The dedication and work ethic that is required to reach the top was instilled in me from an early age. My father would be quick to tell me if I had underperformed, but always in a way that was constructive and would make me strive to do better. Equally, if he felt I had performed particularly well in a game, the validation meant the world to me. In the worlds of both sport and business, we’re often quick to point out when things need improving, but remembering to celebrate the wins is just as important.

Balancing criticism with honesty and maintaining an open, positive approach is a skill cultivated on the field that is absolutely critical in an office environment. It is the leader’s responsibility to bring out the best in any team.

The individual and team dynamic

If you understand the fundamentals of Australian rules football and cricket, you will know they are both games of individual battles and collective team performances.

If you succeed as an individual, then you succeed in a team – and vice versa. There is great synergy between this as a sporting concept and in leading a successful business. You won’t always be the star player (I wasn’t), but doing the best you can do and understanding your role within a collective is fundamental.

In leadership especially, it's not about being the smartest person in the room, but surrounding yourself with talented individuals and supporting them in their personal growth to encourage more voices across the business.

The most successful teams are those who have each other’s backs and do whatever it takes to support their colleagues or teammates through their challenges for the greater good of the team.

Take a moment to think of the most successful sporting teams in history and what they have in common. One that stands out is the All Blacks rugby team, who built such a close-knit group dynamic based on foundations of trust and collective responsibility, demonstrated in part through the famous Haka.

The unforgiving path to success

The journey to success is never a straight line.

Much like an aeroplane setting off on a journey, you will undoubtedly hit turbulence and so must alter your course in order to arrive at your destination safely. In the same vain, not every day is going to be a success in the business world. There will be days when things don’t go to plan and you may be a step or two further away from your objectives.

Here, it’s about controlling what can be controlled and not viewing a slight hiccup as a full-on disaster. As a leader, you are the pilot of your own situation and can always revert to the hard work, dedication and ability that has brought you to where you are in the first place.

There are so many lessons that sport can teach us, not only about business, but life as a whole. The lessons in team dynamics, individual responsibility and resilience are invaluable and something I am adamant in instilling into the people I have the pleasure of working with on a daily basis.

After all, as a business you are only as strong as the team you build.

Written by
Jarrad Hubble
CEO, RTGS.Global
January 11, 2024
Written by
January 11, 2024