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What Employers Can Learn From the Principles of Olympism

Olympic RingsIn watching coverage of the games last evening, my wife and I were discussing the overwhelming complexity involved in managing and deploying the Olympics. With so many nations each carrying such unique agendas and goals, what overarching principles are applied to such a multifaceted assembly? What procedures are in place to ensure proper philosophical governance of an event with such global implications?

After a simple search, I came upon the site of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a place teeming with information and history. What caught my eye was not the obvious data on site selection, symbolism or management, but instead the Olympic Charter. The Charter is 104 pages in length and contains every conceivable rule and regulation associated with the Olympics.

What stopped me in my tracks were The Fundamental Principles of Olympism (pg. 11). I read these through and immediate wished that employers could convey such a simple set of ideals to their employees. In replacing the word “sport” with “work”, I think you’ll see my point:

  • “Blending [work] with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”
  • “… to place [work] at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
  • “The practice of [work] is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing [work], without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
  • “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

Ethical principles. Human dignity. Fair play. I may be naive, but I think that’s all most employees are looking for. As employers, let’s continue to learn from the examples of the Olympics and keep the conversation going.

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I agree. I think what most employees want is real simple – they want to be treated with respect, be given meaningful work, and work with good people.