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Friday, 03 July 2015

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A gold medal for inspiration

AN Olympic cycling coach has visited Lillyhall to speak to the area’s top business leaders.

INSPIRATION: Olympic cycling coach Dan Hunt gives the second talk at the Centre for Leadership Performance seminar at Energus

Dan Hunt, who led the British team to victory in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, spoke to 120 people at Energus on February 2.

The event was part of a masterclass series run by the Centre for Leadership Performance, aimed at helping people to become better leaders and managers.

It was the second in a series of seminars following the launch by entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne in December last year.

Mr Hunt, 33, who coaches the men’s team pursuit squad and oversees the women’s squad, was talent-spotted for the job when working at the Welsh Institute of Sport.

The Olympic coach spoke about the transformation of the British cycling team from its status at the start of the decade into world leaders and explained the podium mentality and culture change that has contributed towards the goal of becoming the best coaching team in the world, and the phenomenal success that is being enjoyed along the route.

He said: “It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, sport or business, the trials are the same. Certain issues arise in competitions that are exactly the same for business leaders.

“My business is Olympic medals and certain aspects of leading an Olympic team are no different for business leaders.

“These people here today are in business to be successful and that takes drive, communication and motivation – the exact values required in a sporting competitor.

“People are the same wherever in whatever industry and these skills are as valid anywhere.”

Mr Hunt said during his time as a leader he has come to realise it takes an incredible amount of man management to keep people focussed.

The masterclass was kicked off by Andy Smith, director of the Centre for Leadership Performance, who said: “The event gives a different slant on leadership and coaching compared to the standard business school approach.

“Welcoming Dan offers the chance for people to enjoy practical experience and learn from his fantastic success.

“These masterclasses are proving very popular with people and we have seen a lot more Cumbrian business looking at leadership programmes.”

Mr Hunt said that one of the key messages from his visit was to remind leaders and managers to be prepared to sacrifice for their goals but ultimately stick to their values and philosophies.

“Everyday is different but one of the hardest things I have ever had to do was cut the women’s team to only a handful of the best performing athletes,” he said.

“When you take athletes, who are obviously already under pressure, to the Olympics you’re working environment becomes a caldron of stress.

“And it takes an incredible amount of man management and conflict management to keep people focussed.”