Sports: The Only True Meritocracy


The NBA Finals were truly exciting and gratifying to watch.  Both teams really played “team.”  They passed the ball many times before the player with the best (unimpeded) “look” took the shot to make the basket.  (How do you like my oh-so tech language?  ;)  And the team that played that way the most, won.  The victorious Miami Heat had the best player:  the unselfish LeBron James.  He passed the ball fast, with power and the element of surprise timing, sometimes bouncing the ball to a teammate, right between two defenders. Wow.  Very cool.  The coolest thing is the best team won.  And that’s what I love most about sports:  it’s the only true meritocracy left in the world.

Business?  Not so much.  All too rare is the business environment where the best performers get the highest wages and the most promotions.  Remember when your mom told you that women just need to try harder and work harder and outperform their male counterparts?  Not true.  A stunning example:  Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric, told a group of female executives at an event held by the Wall Street Journal in early May, that the key to getting ahead is outperformance—period.  Although the notion of a meritocracy sounds logical, it doesn’t correspond with the realities of the business world.  There is plenty of research and evidence indicating otherwise.

Dr. Leonard Mlodinow, a physicist at Caltech, and the author of Subliminal:  How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, says “The idea that, if women are underrepresented at the high echelons of corporations, it must be because they are less qualified, ignores one of the basic facts of life:  gender stereotyping.”  Unconscious prejudices remain so powerful that people even apply gender stereotypes to a computer, judging those with a female voice to be less competent in explaining technology issues than a male one, he explains.  In another study he cites, physics students were asked to judge the professor’s competence after hearing a lecture.  Half saw a man deliver it; the other half saw a woman—both delivered the identical script.  Despite this, the students judged the male actor as being significantly more qualified.

Another study, by professors from MIT and Indiana, had male and female participants with manager experience evaluate groups of employees based on their performance in a fictitious company they created.  The results showed that men in merit-based organizations received higher bonuses than women, despite identical job performance evaluations.  Many experts feel that men and women don’t believe a meritocracy is possible.  Employee surveys show that mistrust in management is a huge challenge—which is why I have a new keynote and workshop on building trust between managers and employees, called “Whom Do You Trust?”  The outline follows.

So the workplace is still depressing to me; it still needs work.  That’s why I watch sports, ladies—it’s the only true meritocracy.  It inspires me to write new courses, and have hope for the future.

Here’s the Course Outline:

Whom Do You Trust?

With fewer people and the need to maximize the potential of each of them, we must make sure we retain our best players.  This is essential for a return on our investment and for the stability of the organization.

It becomes more important than ever that your employees trust their leaders.

Trust is a function of character and competence.  There are action steps to take to being a trustworthy leader.  And it’s a two-way street.  There are ways employees can build or rebuild trust with your boss.

In this presentation, Mimi will enlighten you with action steps for both.  Some highlights are:

–Be clear and focused about your expectations of your people; if you are one of the “people,” you must make the effort to get clear.  Focus is the difference between playing and playing to win.

–Leaders must have the ability to listen, sense and respond.  Employees can be proactive by “modeling” the very behaviors they want from the boss!

–Authentic and timely feedback are essential components.  People want to know, “How am I doing?” and the willingness to have the eyeball to eyeball conversations goes a long way in building trust.

To book, contact:

MIMISPEAKS! Mimi Donaldson 13700 Tahiti Way #246 Marina del Rey, CA 90292 T: 310 / 577-0229




Related posts:

  1. Men & Women: Can We Talk Sports?
  2. Do You Inspire TRUST in Those Around You?
  3. Business and Sports – GO USA Women’s Soccer Team!
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One Response to Sports: The Only True Meritocracy

  1. Thanks for another wonderful post. Where else could anybody get that type of information in such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such information.

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