If I have said this once, I have said it hundreds of times. No sports team ever shows up on game day and says, “let’s lose today”. This same sentiment can apply to work scenarios too, albeit there are some additional layers of complications that doesn’t make this statement as simple or straightforward. However, it is applicable. Although in work scenarios, this statement may not be applied one hundred percent of the time, much to the chagrin of those leading the employees.
The comparison between sports teams and work teams is something I truly enjoy doing. Yes, this is partially due to working with both team types, but also because there is so much to learn from both of them. Now toss in the cross-pollination from the learnings, and that’s where everything begins to start to become more interesting.
I chose the word interesting, because I am always pleasantly surprised by how similar sports and work teams are to one another. The obvious common denominator is that people are at the core of both scenarios, and both are led by typically a few leaders. Although where the people comparison differs, is in the age decade that the sports teams are in, compared to work teams. The sports teams age decade is more homogenous and typically all female or male teams, versus the work teams being far more diverse in both categories.
Another interesting comparative difference between the two types of teams is that there are more opportunities for less experienced leaders of sports teams. An exception to this would be that some work teams in the start-up phase, or smaller, family-owned businesses might have less experienced leaders. Are the less experienced leaders at a disadvantage then the more experienced leaders in both categories. Yes, and no. Yes, if they seek counsel from more seasoned leaders, and no, if the less experienced leaders are willing to admit they will likely require more support than they might realize.
Although work and sports teams have different metrics to determine their performance, the sports teams have a more straightforward method of determining their outcome results. Work teams also are generally working on quarterly based results, while sports teams may not all be playing in all four quarters of the year. This also has both advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is that the sports teams comparatively are operating on more of a “sprint” style, versus the work teams who are running marathons. Preparing for both styles is far different, and also comes with a separate mindset approach. One isn’t better or more favorable than the other, they are just different.
Having experienced for most of my career what it is like to be focused on quarterly results, I learned how to pace myself and ramp quickly for results at the beginning of a quarter. Typically, my team would then have to shift into maintaining and then potentially have to figure out a strategy to surge on the performance results in collaboration with the sales teams towards the end of the quarter. Admittedly, there were times that the frantic feeling of having to collaborate extraordinarily well with the sales team was something I enjoyed doing. Although it could also be exhausting and highly stressed induced.
Comparatively, sports teams are in this situation on a game-by-game basis, so their cycle to focus on what it will take to win is different, but also similar. The similarity is that like the work teams, they are extraordinarily dependent on one another to perform at their peak level in every game. We have all seen plenty of examples of some of our favorite college or professional athletes who exhibit being able to perform at a peak level consistently, but this doesn’t apply to everyone on the team. So, can one or two peak performers on both work and sports teams make a difference? Yes, I think they can, but this is where the concept of taking a look at the benefits of losing comes into focus.
As I stated earlier, no one shows up on game day and says, “let’s lose today.” The athletes may think their chance of winning is limited, but most of them are going to put all their energy into having the game outcome be favorable. Ideally with a win, but a tie in some cases will also give them points towards their final season performance numbers. Granted although we can agree that winning can be more desirable, teams can in fact equally benefit from losing. Here are some benefits to a team losing.
- When a team loses, more emphasis is put into evaluating where were the trouble spots that prevented them from winning, versus a winning team focusing less on this.
- Losing isn’t satisfying to anyone except the winning team and its fans. However, it can help the losing team to look for opportunities related to how they can work differently and more effectively together.
- Experiencing adversity can be a great motivator towards change, and if the change is oriented towards being constructive, it can help a team to fuel its team dynamics in a positive way.
- No matter how stubborn a leader is, eventually if they are consistently experiencing defeat, they will inevitably seek support from others to help them. Or, help will be given to them. Although this doesn’t always mean they will accept the help if the leader is reluctantly having to accept it. Even if it is in their best interest for them and their team.
- Upon repeated defeats, some leaders will eventually figure out whether they are unselfish enough to admit they don’t have all the answers. This doesn’t always mean they will seek more experienced counsel, but it does offer a glimmer of hope they will admit their leadership approach isn’t working.
- Although there are teams who have long stretches of losses, at some point, circumstances will change that will have others making decisions for the leader who they have lost confidence in. This doesn’t always happen at a desirable pace for most fans, the athletes, or the support staff of the team, but it will invariably get to this point.
- The feeling and memory of losing can remain with you longer than the amazing feeling achieved by winning. How a leader and their team handle both aspects can be what separates them from heading towards the path of turning their performance results around, or continuing on the same path. Knowing how to achieve this is critical, with emphasis placed on the word “how”.
Even if you are not a competitive person, most people will agree that winning is far more fun than losing. Although, understanding and appreciating the benefits of losing can be far greater in terms of applying it successfully to other areas of one’s life.
TAGS: #Leaders #Teams #Motivation #Leadership #Business #Winning #Sportsteams #Sportsleaders #Teamdynamics #Collaboration #Learning #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment