The New Yorker just published an interview with tennis legend Billie Jean King, where she discusses establishing women’s tennis as a global money-making sport.
The whole interview is a mini-masterclass on leadership. From the recognition of the importance of relationships, to the specificity of her vision (equal pay), to the relentless politicking she did behind the scenes to get everyone on board, this interview contains more wisdom about leadership than most books.
What spurred this post was this passage, which I’ve… slightly altered:
I feel like most of the designers do not understand the business side of things. Designers say, What should I do? What should I learn about? I go, Learn the other side of the story—learn the business side. Most designers just want more money. And I’m, like, Just understand their side, so when you sit down to speak, and have dialogue, you actually have some understanding and empathy for them. And, if you can show that, I think they’ll start to think about you in a different way as well. It’s just about relationships—everything.
(Okay. She didn’t say “designers.” She said, “athletes.” But, literally, that’s all I changed.)
This quote reveals just how universal this is. For anyone to succeed in business, they need to learn the business side. And when a non-businessperson invests some time and energy in doing that, the businessfolks will pay attention.