Since the second world war more and more businesses are employing sports stars and various other celebrities to speak and teach businesses on everything from psychology to motivation. High profile professional footballers and the like earn thousands for often one visit.
In reality, I don’t believe they can help businesses much as each discipline needs unique skills to thrive in a modern society. A sportsman can demonstrate some aspects of motivation as they have had to be motivated to reach the top of their profession. This usually is an individual process and does not take account of group and team dynamics. A captain of a national team sport might be able to offer insight when motivating her team though this is nominal.
There are several reasons why these skills cannot be easily transferred. Firstly all sport is geared to a specific event where participants have to perform on the day. In business you are often having to perform at your best every day and would not succeed if you only had one good sales day in a blue moon. The commercial paymasters invite these people on board thinking their staff will be able to identify with them and some of the glitter will rub off. In reality any star stuff does not last so the investment is a waste.
I do believe that various celebrities including international athletes can add to the staff entertainment and are should be used for keynote speeches to reward a successful years trading. It is when they are used as a means of improving productivity that I question their worth. I have been to many seminars and conferences in my time and have become excited by a celebrity speaker. They were certainly a draw and I enjoyed their talk. However when it came to content and long term value I would say, most are useless. Their world won’t be my world and I think it is the same for most within the employed community.
If you are bringing someone in to tell you how to do things use someone who is in the same business as you. Ultimately it is not what you know about them in their field. Rather it is how much they understand your problems. If I want to improve my football team I would get a football manager. If I want to improve my parts production I would get a successful production engineer.
Peter Bull ( Author of Get In Touch With Your Public Voice)