Many of us in business can't help ourselves - we love taking juicy sports quotes and applying them to our own professional lives.  This post is a unique spin on that tradition.

We'll start this post with a prediction. By 2050, scientists will discover DNA evidence directly linking the personality traits of great business leaders and athletes, alike.

The numbers support a deep bond between sports and business acumen.

The Harvard Business Review found that over half of US top female executives played a college sportFortune has spotlighted the high number of Fortune 500 CEOs who were college athletes.

The list goes on. And in this post, we're taking a serious look at 5 pillars of business leadership, using 35 quotes from famous athletes and coaches.

Top 35 Sports Quotes for Business Leaders

The quotes in this collection are organized by topic, namely, the 5 key qualities of business leadership:

  1. Teamwork
  2. Achievement
  3. Discipline
  4. Motivation
  5. Communication

Our goal: Create a portrait of the deeply interwoven character traits that drive elite professionals in sports and business, alike. 

On Teamwork

People have similar goals: Health, happiness and an opportunity to provide for their families. Steve Kerr

Teamwork Quotes Steve Kerr

Mediocre people don't like high achievers. High achievers don't like mediocre people. Nick Saban

Being a good teammate isn't about recognition. I do it because it makes me whole and complete. Dwyane Wade

Nick Saban Teamwork QuotesTeamwork quotes Dwyane Wade

Each person holds so much power within themselves. Sometimes they just need a little nudge - direction, support, coaching. Pete Carroll

Within the Seahawks scheme, everybody can be who they are. Richard Sherman

business leadership quotes

When I get a feeling about where a teammate is going to be, I can pass without even looking. Wayne Gretzky

sports quotes to use in business

There's nothing like being with a team that can go that distance. Chuck Daly


On Achievement

Big time players step up in big games. Santana Moss 

You learn a lot more from the lows. They make you pay attention to what you're doing. John Elway

I'm never as good or bad as any single performance. I've never believed my critics or my worshippers. Charles Barkley

Best Charles Barkley quotes

Being the best means proving it in different countries, leagues and championships. Ronaldo

You can't let success diminish the desire to be a winner. There's room for improvement in every sportsman. Lionel Messi

Ronaldo Messi quotes

Don't let winning make you soft, losing make you quit or your teammates down. Larry Bird

Winning takes talent. To repeat takes character. John Wooden

great quotes about winning

On Discipline

Concentration and toughness are the margins of victory. Bill Russell

best bill russell quotes

Pressure is something you feel when you don't know what you're doing. Chuck Noll

If you want to win, do the ordinary things better than anyone else does them day in and day out. Chuck Noll

Chuck noll quotes

I practice to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable how fast I'm going. Then in the game, things slow down. Steph Curry

steph curry quotes practice

When you're not focused, you hesitate. The more you hesitate, the greater your chance of getting hit. Sidney Crosby

sid crosby quotes

Aristotle once said: 'Excellence is not a singular act. It's a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.' Shaquille O'Neal (The Big Aristotle)

It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters. Bear Bryant

Bear Bryant quotes for business

On Motivation

What keeps me going is goals. Muhammad Ali

muhammad ali goals

To uncover your true potential, first find your own limits, then have the courage to blow past them. Picabo Street

It's important to push yourself further than you think you can go. That separates the good from the great. Kerri Strug

Picabo Street quote on motivationKerri Strug coach

I've exceeded a few of my goals. But I'm behind on a couple of others. Tiger Woods

No matter how good you get, you can always get better. That's the exciting part. Tiger Woods

I don't think limits. Usain Bolt

Inspiring Usain Bolt quote

Competing is a privilege. Make the most of the opportunity by pushing yourself to the limit of your abilities. Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa Leadership Quote

On Communication

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan. Tom Landry

The most important thing in coaching is communication. It's not what you say as much as what they absorb. Red Auerbach

Players don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Pat Summitt

A system that rewards meeting goals and penalizes failure to hit targets is just as important as putting goals on paper. Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt Quotes on coaching

Individuals make the team. How they think and what they do is important to the team. It's important who these people are. Nick Saban


Who said: 'Greed is good?' I didn't necessarily agree with that. But when Steph's greedy, it helps us. Steve Kerr

We'll get ready for Round 1 tomorrow. Steve Kerr

Achieving in Business and Sports

If you read each group of quotes carefully, you'll notice a common thread running through these 5 topics.

Invoke these quotes as you approach business leadership. The ties that transcend both sports and business are surer than ever. Use the wisdom of these sports giants to drive your company to the next level. Learn how Ambition's sales performance management platform can help.

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