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Lead Your Team Strategy

How You Act in Crucial Moments is Key to Your Success

tennis-player-11080202 Credit: fstockfoto | Dreamstime.com

The critical ability to perform when it matters most can be key to career success, according to a recent study.

The study, which focused on the performance of professional tennis players in the U.S. Open over 12 years, has implications for businesses as well. The researchers found that players who played well at crucial moments were more likely to win the important points than their opponents. The same holds true for business, the researchers said.

"We didn’t necessarily start with the idea of using sports data," said Brian Rogers, one of the study's authors and an associate professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. "But we recognized that the stakes are very high for professional athletes, and despite their training, their performance in critical moments varies from player to player."

The study's findings demonstrate the importance of what the researchers called "critical ability," which can be useful when hiring in the business world as well," they said.

"If everyone in the world performs equally well in every circumstance, it wouldn’t matter whom you hire ," Rogers said. "But you want to select those who perform best in the most important circumstances, and people differ on this, based on their critical ability."