Management Corner: So it’s how you play the game


[Webster definition of Sportsmanship] Conduct (as fairness, respect for one’s opponent and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport.

Have you heard the phrase “It’s just a game”? What does that mean? Is it an excuse? Is it a discounting of the value of a game? Is it a way to calm a person down who is taking competition way too seriously? What is your mindset regarding the difference between playing a game, living life or working within a business?

I have been known to say “How you play a game is related to how you live your life.” I think that is partially true, yet I know I can be far more competitive on the tennis court than I typically am in living my life or working in a business setting.

Regarding sportsmanship, in both the game and business context there is the consideration of conduct, fairness, respect and graciousness. Good sportsmanship in a game or at work is about integrity.

Sportsmanship is about respecting and valuing the game and the persons playing the game. It is about our attitude and behavior within interactions. Sportsmanship is about truth telling and being honest about a ball out of bounds or the score. Certainly we make mistakes at times. Yet, I have played with individuals who are less than honest consistently and in those situations the enjoyment of the sport is diminished.

I see sportsmanship being about carrying a good, healthy and positive approach to all parts of the game. It is listening to each other as members of the same team and listening to your opponents. It is having a person-to-person conversation of care and concern if a person is injured. If a shot is missed, or game is lost — all is taken in stride as a part of the game, even the enjoyment of the game in the midst of defeat.

Good sportsmanship does not include belittling a team member, the opponent or one’s self. Not playing up to par or missing some shots can be very frustrating. Reality is that we all have our good and difficult days. We make some good plays and less than good plays, even the professionals.  It is also reality that different players have different levels of skills and ability.

In business, sportsmanship or “businesspersonship” is valuing all customers, employees and competitors. It is about valuing persons as high as the value of winning the game.

As I work with businesses, teamwork is important and I frequently use sports terms and situations to give examples of working as a team. I am saying that it can be helpful for business owners and managers to think in terms of managing their business as they would a game or a sports team.

It would not mean to take lightly the nature, mission and bottom line of work and the business. It would mean using the related disciplines of gamesmanship within the business setting like — following rules, providing regular training, practicing and encouraging sportsmanship!

Bernie Linnartz welcomes your comments, questions and suggested topics. Call (575) 751-3777, (575) 770-4712 or email


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