Winning. What does this take to accomplish in Business and Sports?

Anyone who has a competitive drive understands, and is generally driven to want to compete and to win. Yes, in just about every scenario, and no, second place is never satisfactory for them. However, we know that not everyone is driven to compete at the same level, and this applies to both business and sports teams. I work with both, so I get to see how they both differ in their approaches, and how there are many similarities too.

When I first started working with sports teams, I was under the impression everyone had the same level of intensity and focus in terms of wanting to win. Spoiler alert, this wasn’t the reality of what I experienced. This was both perplexing, and an amazing challenge to sort out. For context, I competed myself in both business and sports, and I was orienting my thinking based on my bias of how I thought about competing.

The interesting thing about competing is the various processes and ways you can get to a final outcome. Desirably a win, but this doesn’t always play out the way you want it to. Although, I have found that beyond someone’s skill level, one of the factors which significantly contributes to being competitive is your mind set. I know this for a fact, because although I would consider myself to be highly competitive, my approach is quite different from others to get the results I am seeking.

One of the sports team’s I was working with was having a difficult time with being able to win. I didn’t start working with them until they were partially into their season, so there were many aspects and layers to uncover to appreciate what was going on in the minds of the athletes.

Understanding how the athletes thinking was impacting their physical output and how at times it was significantly contributing to their losses, and other times, it was simply a minimal impact. However, enough of an impact which tipped the results to favor their competitor. Seeing this happen in either of these scenarios was painful to watch, and at times it felt like it was like watching a car accident happening in slow motion.

So, was there something which could be done to first address the mentality side of the athletes thinking? Yes, there was, and it was actually a very simple approach. Brace yourself for how simple this first step is. It might surprise you. What I do in these scenarios is to have a conversation with each sports coach and athlete and I ask them if they truly want to win? If there is any slight hesitation, if they don’t look me in the eye with their response, or if they can’t convincingly express to me they want and expect to win, I know we have our work cut out to do.

Yes, it might be shocking to hear there are some people on a team who are not actually thinking their team can win, and if you can get to the root of why this is happening, you can begin to diagnose what is contributing to this happening. No, it isn’t as easy as you might think to get people to admit this. Some of what they are expressing to you will require you to read between the lines, or have you listened intently to the words they are using to indirectly tell you why they think the way they do.

When I come across a person or pockets of people on a team who can express that they don’t think they can either win a particular game, or have a winning season, I actually find this refreshing. Why? Because although the people might want to win, they have to believe they can. If they don’t think they can, the unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy kicks in, and often becomes their reality. Is this a learned behavior? Can it be course corrected, and how long might this take?

From my experience, the self-fulfilling prophecy of not winning can be interrupted, and yes, it can be addressed to mitigate the risk of it continuing to happen. Here are some suggestions on how to do this, and it can apply to both a business and sports team.

  • Stop blaming others. There is likely something you might be doing which is contributing to why you are not winning. What might this be, and what can you do about it?
  • How’s your attitude? Even if your team is a .500 team, or your team is heading towards meeting its goals, what are the aspects of each game and business goal that are making it difficult to achieve?
  • As a leader, or individual team contributor, ask yourself what can be done to have your team look like they are really working together?
  • Who inspires your team? Are they self-inspired, inspired by one another, or are there people one the team who are no longer able to provide the inspiration they once did?
  • Is your team open to having a conversation about why their performance is what it is?
  • Do people individually understand what motivates them?
  • If you are a leader, do you understand how you contribute to motivating your team?
  • Why do you want to win or accomplish your goals? Can you articulate this and convince yourself or others about your authenticity of your “why”? Try recording this, and listen to what you have to say and how you express this. Are you convinced by what you hear?

Of course, there are many more ways to approach helping a business or sports team how to get to the place they want to be, whether that includes meeting or exceeding their goals, or understanding what it takes to win, and win more often. The challenge is to admit you don’t have all the answers to get there, and might need some help. Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean you are a weak leader or sports coach by asking for help, it means you care about others, and the desired outcome collectively everyone wants to attain.

TAGS: #Winning #Success #Motivation #Teamdynamics #Leadership #Sports #Sportsteam #Business #Competition #Achievement #Howtowin #Ideasforwinning #Leader #Coach #Sportscoach

Who’s happy and what impact does this have on you or others you lead?

When I think about all of the times I have heard people comment on how they wish they could be happier, my thoughts go in several directions. The first direction is that I consider why they might not be happy, and the second is wondering what they are doing to alter their feeling? For some people, being unhappy appears to be a chronic state, but it doesn’t have to be, as I realize that depression and anxiety are a reality some people are contending with.

In terms of how happiness relates to leadership, this may not always be a factor that leaders are thinking about. At least in terms of what they can do to positively impact others. However, there is plenty that leaders can do, but they will need to be supported, as happiness is what I’ll refer to as a “team sport” or effort. The good news is that there are people with traits who can influence the dynamics and mood of others, and this is a great place to launch this topic from.

Whether you are a leader or being led by one, let’s have you consider the feelings you have when you are interacting with your team. What is the first adjective which comes to mind if you had to use one word to describe your team? If it isn’t a positive one, your team is a candidate for what I’ll refer to as a “happiness makeover”. Sure, you might think I’m not taking this topic seriously, but I sincerely am. It’s also exciting for me to leverage the possibilities which can be applied to course correcting a team whose happiness level isn’t where anyone desires it to be.

Last week I was observing a team I recently started working with. I have talked to most of the team via Zoom, but I had not seen them interacting with one another. This particular team is a sports team, but what I’ll describe to you are some of the elements I’m looking to determine the happiness level of a team. Most which can be applied to non-sports or business teams too.

One of the first things I’m looking for to provide me with insight about the team is to see how they are communicating with one another. I’m also watching their body language and how they are engaging with their leaders, and vice versa. Another factor I am paying close attention to is what isn’t being communicated. This is the part where my years of experience observing team dynamics comes into play, and which contributes to helping me to determine the happiness level of the team.

In terms of how I would rate a team and their happiness level involves first having a rating scale of 1-10, with ten being the highest level of happiness. For context, the majority of teams I see and observe either professionally or for fun, are generally at either a 5 or lower. This is an average and tolerable rating, but not one that most people would be excited about joining. The unfortunate thing is that having an average rating may in fact be acceptable to some leaders, and the people on the team. This disappoints me, because in my opinion, no team needs to succumb to only being at an average level of happiness team. So, why do leaders and people on their team remain on this type of team? In one word to explain this, I choose the word effort.

Effort implies you need to put energy, time and attention into something, and this applies to what is required to change the happiness team dynamic. The challenge for some is whether they will choose to invest what it will take to turn their wattage level up on their team.

Yes, there are factors which can quickly and positively impact the happiness factor on a team, and the first one is the leader of the team. Why? Because the leader of the team sets the tone for the team. They also project via both their communication and leadership style what level of tolerance is acceptable in terms of allowing people to express being happy, or to authentically be themselves. This may seem odd, but leadership tone is one of the significant contributors to a team’s happiness level.

Another factor which contributes to a team’s happiness factor is whether the leader and the team trust one another. As we know, trust takes time to develop. However, another approach to trust is that it can also be granted up front, and retracted or brought down to a lower level based on circumstances. Circumstances which can be adjusted or mitigated to bring back the trust level to its original state. When trust is granted up front, this can also set the tone for a very healthy and happy team dynamic.

So, what are some of the other factors which can contribute to an increased team and leadership happiness level?

  • Just about everyone has worked with a team member, or leader who is simply a negative person. Unless this person is willing to admit they are this way, and consider changing their negative vibe and getting help to do so, the happiness level of a team will suffer.
  • Is your team oriented towards looking only at problems, and not focused on looking at them as opportunities for improvement or a higher level of satisfaction? Altering the way you look at circumstances, will have a tremendously positive impact.
  • Although your team or leader may not be highly creative, I am certain there are people on your team who are. Allow them to contribute their creative abilities to come up with fun and interesting ways to make being on the team more fun.
  • How well does your team know each other? If most of the team acts like others on the team are strangers or people they simply transact with, this will negatively impact the team happiness level. Look for ways to get to know one another better.
  • Borrowing from a Simon Sinek concept, does everyone on the team understand their “Why” they are on the team? This is in terms of what are they contributing to make being on the team more dynamic? If being on the team is simply about a paycheck, this will serve as a withdrawal from the happiness bank account.
  • Does the leader or your team members treat you well? Do you feel like you are making a difference? If not, what can be done to alter both of these areas?

I’m sure the majority of people would agree with me that all of us could benefit from being either on a team or leading a team that would enjoy having an increased happiness level. Are you willing to do your part to make this happen? If not, stop complaining about your team, as no one wants to hear your complaints.

TAGS: #Leadership #Teams #Leader #Professionaldevelopment #Motivation #Happiness #Happyteams #Howtohaveahappyteam #Howtoleadahappyteam #Teamdynamics #Success #Sportsteam #Sportscoach #CEO #President #Sports

I’m going to miss you Dad.

For the last six years on a weekly basis, I have been sharing advice with you and others from around the globe on hundreds of topics. My topics have covered business, teams (work and sports), motivation, leadership, awareness, communication, performance and an assortment of other topics intended to share my acquired knowledge with you virtually. Perhaps to serve as your virtual mentor or advisor. Today I’m turning the tables, and asking you to give me some advice. Advice to help me to get through an experience I have never gone through before. The passing of my Dad.

When I found out that my Dad was sick, I began talking to him 3-4 times per week, and visiting with him as often as I could do so. Our conversations spanned a wide range of subjects, and they were always constructive, thought provoking and educational. For context, my Dad studied Economics and loved to educate himself about what was happening in the world. Despite his own health failing, and perhaps the worlds failing health too, he always had an optimistic outlook. Which is clearly something I inherited from him.

The day before my Dad passed, and despite the incredible pain and suffering he was experiencing, he never mentioned either of these factors. Instead, the day before he passed, and while he was struggling to talk and simply breathe, he told me that everything was going to be fine. I honestly think he thought he might be too, and he never complained about how he was feeling. He was more interested in how you were doing, and that you would be OK in any circumstance.

My Dad has clearly influenced my thinking and writing over the years, and he has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my entire life and business and entrepreneurial career. I have never taken for granted how fortunate I am to have had the kind of mental and genuine caring support from him that I have received. I’m also well aware that not everyone has had this same experience. Although I wish they did, which is part of why I share my experience with you and others.

In the last two days our family has been showered with love and support from our community. This is both a tribute to who my Dad was as a person, and the fact he was such a genuinely kind human being to everyone. His friends adored him as much as his family did, and the memories we experienced with him were precious, and will help us to keep him alive in our minds and hearts.

A friend yesterday shared that my heart will have a big hole in it from the loss I am experiencing, but promised me that someday my tears will be replaced by laughter. It’s hard to imagine when that will be, but I will take comfort in keeping this in mind. A quote by A.A. Milne that was included in a condolence card from a sweet neighbor seriously touched me. The quote said, “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.” I will surely be heeding this advice.

As some of you know, I’m a Gallup Strengths Coach, and for additional context, my Dad’s #5, and my #1 strength (e.g., Gallup/Clifton Strengths) is Positivity. As I am writing this story through blurred and teary eyes, I will always remember where I inherited this lovely strength from. Even on his last day on this Earth, my Dad was leveraging his Positivity, despite the fact it seemed impossible for him or someone to do so. This is one of the many qualities I admired about him, and I will be forever thankful I received this talent from him.

As all of us are grieving the loss of my Dad, especially my Mom, I am asking for your support, and to return the favor to me by sharing a piece of advice from you. Advice about what you did to help you get through the grieving process. I’m certain that I won’t be the only one benefitting from your advice, and I thank you in advance for sharing it with me.

I’m going to miss you Dad, and thank you for being such an amazing one.

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

Stubborn? It’s not a good look. 

I’ve always been an optimist. So, when I hear someone expressing that something isn’t possible, my mind immediately begins to diverge into two directions. The first one is to think about why this was stated, and the second path has me considering whether all of the options have been explored to create an opportunity to make something possible.

My skepticism about whether all potential options have been investigated and applied may come from my family heritage of having an “inventors-like” mind. Or, possibly because of my innate curiosity about imagining why a solution has not been developed to attempt what others think can’t be achieved. Which, leads me to wondering if stubbornness could in fact be one of the reasons?

Fortunately, most people are not classified as being stubborn, but we all know someone who might have this adjective associated with them on a regular basis. Possibly without them being aware that others clearly see them being this way more often than not. The person who is unaware of themselves being stubborn might actually think they are just like everyone else. What they don’t realize is that being stubborn generally isn’t working in their favor.

An example of someone who is being stubborn could be that they are unwilling to consider, take or apply practical advice which could be highly adventitious to them. It can be highly frustrating in this scenario, especially when not taking the advice can have less than desirable consequences. However, we also need to factor in that some people learn via experiences, and failing to take advice and the outcome from this could actually result in a positive outcome for them. How? Because afterwards they could appreciate the value of considering to listen to, and ideally applying sound advice the next time a similar scenario arises. 

Perhaps you have heard the expression “you can lead a horse to water when they are thirsty, but you can’t make it drink it.” This expression is ideally aligned with people who are stubborn, because they often do the exact opposite of what they should be doing, primarily due to their stubbornness.  I personally have encountered a number of people who would be far happier, have an easier outcome in numerous scenarios, and much less stress if they would first recognize that their on-going stubbornness is one of the core reasons for many of their challenges and why they are often highly frustrated. 

Telling someone they are stubborn seldomly has any positive impact on someone changing from this disposition. It might make you feel better expressing this sentiment to them, but that’s not going to lead either of you anywhere you will want to end up. So, are there techniques that can be applied to help someone who is stubborn? Especially someone who is unaware of how they are presenting and interacting with others? Yes, there are, and below are some suggestions to ask them, or have them potentially consider. 

·      What is your definition of being stubborn?

·      Ask yourself why you are often considered by others to be stubborn?

·      Is being stubborn an easy excuse of your “why” you are not doing or achieving something you could be?

·      Have you thought about how being stubborn is impacting your relationships with others?

·      Could you potentially be unaware of the fact others consider you to be stubborn, and think you are acting differently than how you are being perceived?

·      Why wouldn’t you accept help, advice or guidance from someone more experienced or knowledgeable than you are that could positively impact you both personally, professionally or both?

·      Do you have an example of someone who others consider to be stubborn, and can’t see how you could be compared to them?

·      Providing you acknowledge you are stubborn; can you imagine the benefits of being less or not perceived as being a stubborn person? This applies to both your personal and professional life, as you might not be as stubborn, or stubborn in one of these scenarios. 

If redirecting energy from a trait such as stubbornness into more productive outcomes is possible, are you, or someone else you know ready to re-develop your person to experience the benefits of doing so? Or, will your stubbornness prevent you from being more happy, less frustrated and experiencing a higher quality overall mental health and well-being?

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Success #Professionaldevelopment #Sports #Teams #Leaders #Sportscoaches #Coaches #Traits #Stubborn #Stubbornness #Overcomingstubborness #Solutions #Awareness #Selfawareness #Benefitsofbeinglessstubborn