Winning leadership. What does this involve?

My fascination with winning was piqued early in life when I first experienced the emotion involved with winning a contest I wasn’t even aware I was involved in. Yes, this may sound odd, but the contest involved being compared against other swimmers in terms of how well we progressed as athletes that summer. The prize for winning this contest involved being given an engraved plaque that I was the number one swimmer that year. When my name was announced to walk up to claim my prize, the emotion I felt was one I had not experienced before, and this was what ignited my fascination with understanding more about winning. 

The expression “winning isn’t everything” is an interesting term, and I do agree with it. Namely because when I haven’t won something, I am much more introspective about what were the aspects that contributed to not winning? I can’t say I have always been as introspective about winning, but this does give me pause to consider this further. Which is exactly why I recently put my researcher hat back on, and dove back into an extensive research project I conducted during our Covid months. 

The research involved speaking with sports coaches at four different levels (e.g., high school, college, professional, Olympic), with the original intent to learn more about the contributions to team dynamics, motivation and performance. However, an interesting by-product of this research which had me dissect the research results differently, involved doing a comparative analysis of championship coaches responses to non-championship coaches. 

During the secondary and comparative analysis, I started to see a vast divergence in terms of how the championship versus the non-championship coaches were responding to my questions. In fact, in some cases, the responses were so stark, that I was pleasantly surprised by them. Reviewing this analysis allowed me to have clarity and begin to see a pattern in terms of how the two coaching groups operated, and provided me with MRI level insight into what was allowing them and their teams to reach championship levels in their respective sports. 

Having spent the majority of my career in business, I am accustomed to studying trends and leveraging both predictive analytics, but also my gut instinct to make decisions that will positively impact others. Ultimately to win at whatever business “contest” we happened to be in. Upon thinking about this further, I realized an interesting fact, and this was that there was a very similar comparison aspect in business and sports. This one comparative aspect is that very few people actually talk about, and it is about “how” to win. 

So, upon seeing the results from my research relating to what few people talk about in either business or sports, yet what everyone wants to better understand and know more about, is the “how” do you win? In fact, not just win, but win at the highest level within the category you are in. Many of them repetitively. Having experienced what I’ll call “repetitive winning” in the business world, I was able to clearly also see a strong correlation of the “how to win” between the winning business leaders and winning sports coaches. 

Now that I have what I’ll refer to as perceivably a formula and having potentially “cracked the code” on what could be considered a winning formula is exciting. However, it also comes with an enormous responsibility to help others understand and benefit from this, and I’ll also add in a dose of pressure. Pressure in the sense of not because I’m concerned about having others potentially not succeed and benefit from better understanding the “how” to win formula. Instead, my concern is with the reality that it might not be a formula everyone is comfortable with applying. 

If you think you are a leader or sports coach who could benefit from better understanding the formula to experience the “how” to win concept, I’ll provide you with some initial thoughts to consider. 

·      Yes, this will sound ridiculous, but ask yourself and your team whether you truly think you collectively have what it takes to win a championship?

·      Why do you want to win a championship? Be really clear on how you define this, as you may be surprised by the variations on why you, and those you lead have to say. 

·      There is a certain level of commitment you will need to have your entire team sign-up for to reach and have the “how” aspect of winning work for you. So, be prescriptive in terms of outlining what expectations you have to both meet and sustain the commitment required to reach the level you are seeking. 

·      As a leader, who can you count on for counsel when the pressure starts to really amp up, and is at a level you haven’t experienced before?

·      How would you rate your communication ability on a scale of 1-5, with five being the highest? If this is an area you suspect you need to fine tune and improve upon, it will be worth it to make an investment in doing so.

·      If you wouldn’t classify yourself as being open-minded, first ask yourself why you are not, and secondly, ask yourself if you have any intention of wanting to be this way.

·      How often are you able to truly be yourself in all of your interactions with others? Be completely honest with this response.

Being a “winning” leader or sports coach is what the majority of leaders and coaches will tell you they set out to eventually become. However, the reality is that claiming this descriptive word is much more difficult than most people can appreciate, but it is attainable. Yes, doing so will require you understanding and committing to applying a version of the “how” to do this which will work for your team, but it might be exactly what you and your team want to do. 

TAGS: #Leadership #Sportscoach #Success #Strategy #Motivation #Management #Teams #Team  #Teamdynamics #Howtowin #Winning #Business

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