Intimate teams and camaraderie. Which comes first?

Intimacy. It’s one of those words when you hear it expressed in professional settings and related to the development of business and sports teams which can conjure up associations which make people feel uncomfortable. However, it should elicit the exact opposite response.

So, why are most people uncomfortable with the concept of discussing team intimacy? One of the reasons is because our society tends not to have much experience with talking about concepts that fall into the emotion category. Especially in work and sports environments. It is also frowned upon to talk about subjects which may fall into the personal category, or are on the edge of it.

Another reason people are uncomfortable, especially managers and coaches, is that emotional development, which team intimacy falls into the category of, is not something taught in academic environments. As a result, we independently learn when we are growing up about how to apply emotions, and the appropriate ones to our social interactions. As you already know, there is a wide spectrum of people’s abilities in this area. Unfortunately, the majority of people are not at the level they may need to be.

Why are people not at the levels of where they should be in the areas of emotional intelligence and common sense? Simply put, these attributes are not equally distributed, and neither of them are academically taught. Now, toss in having to navigate and apply emotional management either as an individual team member or manager or coach, and that’s when most teams start to have challenges. Now what, and how is this remedied?

The first thing to consider is to think about why does this happen? It namely occurs because the managers and coaches are not taught how to positively leverage emotions of their team members. However, if they were, the outcomes of their team’s performance would be entirely different, and much more in their favor.

Let’s look at team intimacy from a different perspective. Whether you played on a sports team, or have been on a work team, think about which one of these were the best teams you have ever been on? What were the characteristics which made the team outstanding? If I had to pick one word to represent what is the essence of an outstanding performance team I had been on, it would be camaraderie.

Camaraderie isn’t something which is developed overnight. It takes time, and knowing how to develop it. Unfortunately, very few managers or coaches achieve the level of knowing how to do so. However, there are ones in the sports world that are shining examples of knowing how to develop teams that have incredible camaraderie and intimacy. Alabama football Coach Nick Saban is one example. Scores of content have been written about his ability to develop intimate teams. In the business world, Richard Branson is famous for developing intimate teams via the long list of Virgin brands he has crafted.

What separates Coach Saban and Sir Branson from others? Simply put, they have figured out the formula it takes to produce team camaraderie from leveraging the concept of team intimacy. They are also not afraid of harnessing human emotions to create powerful, high caliber producing teams, and so have I.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you have what it takes to create the type of team camaraderie which others admire, and wish they knew the formula for:

  • Do you have emotional based techniques which repeatedly produce high performance results for your team?
  • On a scale of 1-10, ten being the highest rating, how comfortable are you with having emotional conversations with each of your team members?
  • How would you rate your awareness of what truly motivates each team member on a scale of 1-5, with five being exceptional?
  • What was the last conversation you had with one of your team members which caused a conversational breakthrough, and which resulted in that member producing results you have not seen before?
  • Do you know how to influence the camaraderie of your team?
  • What methods of influencing the camaraderie of your team result in sustainable and increased performance metrics?
  • Would you classify your mindset as being self-growth or self-interest?
  • What was the last thing you did to develop team intimacy?
  • What are the systems, structure or processes you have in place to develop sustainable team camaraderie and intimacy?

The questions above are not easy to answer, and chances are you will want to reflect on the outcomes of your responses for a short period of time. If you are not satisfied with your answers, and the results your team is getting, perhaps it’s time to begin considering the importance of leveraging team camaraderie and intimacy in a way you never considered doing. Although there are few guarantees in life, in this case, I guarantee those who have, are the ones who are routinely outperforming your team.

The good news for you? You get to decide which type of team you want to have. I’m guessing I know which type you would prefer to be managing, coaching or be on.

TAGS: #Business #Leadership #Teambonding #Tipsonhowtobondateam #Sportsteam #Sportscoach #Motivation #Success #Nicksaben #Coachnicksaben #Richardbranson

Ambition. How do you calculate (or measure) this?

Let’s begin by thinking about whether ambition is something we innately have within us, or if this is a learned skill? For me personally, ambition is a concept which I didn’t begin thinking about until my late teens. At that point, I would admit that my ambition level wasn’t as high as it should have been, but I managed to attain the goals I set out to achieve.

Sure, I was proud of my goal attainments, but I wasn’t purely satisfied with them. I knew I could accomplish more, yet I was aware that there was something holding me back from doing so. For context, it wasn’t anything that was tragic, or that was impeding my mental or physical ability, but it did have an emotional component factor. A few people in my life know what was holding me back, and eventually I reached a point when I arrived at a place in my life where I accepted and allowed myself to put my ambition drive back into gear, and motion.

Admittedly the process of having my ambition level ramp up was slower than I would have liked it to have been. However, I also embraced the minor wins I saw which contributed to reaching new levels I was striving for both personally and professionally. This was a solo journey, and perhaps if I had asked for support from others, I might have gotten to the ambition level I wanted to be at faster. Although there is something to be said for achieving something on your own timeline and via pure grit.

As I was in the process of tuning up my ambition level, I was paying close attention to others around me who had seemingly cracked the code on understanding how to be ambitious, and attain exactly what they wanted to. I noticed some factors about these individuals as I was learning from them. One of them was that they had a monomaniacal focus on going after and achieving what they wanted to. I admired this trait, but struggled to do this myself. Eventually I figured out why I struggled with this ability to focus, but it wasn’t until multiple decades into my professional life that I did, and found a solution to help me.  

The combination of focus and having a clear vision of what you want to achieve is part of the equation which contributes to being able to calculate someone’s ambition, but it only scratches the surface.

Another contributing factor to measuring ambition is understanding what you are willing to truly sacrifice to reach the goal or goals you are aiming towards. Let’s face it, the word sacrifice comes with lots of strings, and not always pleasant ones in order to make what you have to sacrifice worth it. Added to this mix is that we know there are no guarantees that when you sacrifice something, that it will be worth it. This makes doing so much harder, and this is where another element of measuring ambition comes into play.

The element is tenacity, and this is also something that is difficult to find the mental reserves and energy levels to maintain this. Doing so isn’t impossible, but having the right state of mind will contribute to whether you will succeed at having the tenacity level you will need to factor into the ambition equation.  

Self-confidence, or at least the appearance of having this was another ingredient which I noticed those who would be classified as being ambitious also possessed. The word swagger comes to mind when I visualize people who appear to be this way, and in a very positive way of representing this.

Speaking of visualizing, I would add that having a clear vision of what a person wants to achieve is critically important. In the absence of having this, it will make it much more difficult to attain the goal or goals one is seeking without this. Particularly on days when your ambition level may be waning. In other words, it is important to include as much detail in your mind about what it will look like when you attain your achievements. This includes factoring in thinking about how you will feel when you arrive at your goal.

Having outlined the majority of the elements associated with what it takes to have ambition at any level, this still presents the question of how do you measure this? Either for yourself or someone else?

In terms of measuring ambition for yourself, my feeling is that you need to have your own method for determining and agreeing upon what your own definition of ambition means. Everyone is going to have a different definition, so it’s important to consider this when you are calculating what your own level is. This brings up the point of whether having ambition is an innate skill, or one that can be developed over time. For me personally, I will vote for the latter option, and this is based on my own personal experience.

If you were to come up with a method to calculate someone else’s ambition level, one way of doing so would be to determine via asking them questions what either their current or future ambition levels might be. Here are some questions to give this a try.

  • How do you define success?
  • What are (3-5) drivers for you personally which allows you to strive to achieve a goal?
  • Why or what things would you sacrifice doing in your life to achieve a goal?
  • What motivates you when your goal looks like it’s not attainable?
  • Why is it important for you to be perceived as being ambitious?
  • What do you envision your life to look like in a decade from now?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), what ambition level are you currently at?
  • Are you focused on increasing your ambition level, or are you satisfied with the level it is at?
  • Does being compared to others in terms of their achievements, inspire or have no impact on you?
  • What are the intangible benefits to being ambitious, and that are important to you?

Given the reality that measuring ambition might be challenging to do, if it is something you want to do, then I’m sure you will find a way to ultimately do so, and I hope that my suggestions will help you along the way.

TAGS: #Ambition #Success #Business #Achievement #Beingambitious #Measuringambition #Leadership #Motivation #Inspiration #Howtobeambitious #Elementsofambition #Management #HR #Sales #Salesmanagement #Marketing #Leader

Sharing. Are you doing this enough?

I grew up with two siblings, and being the oldest, I learned early on that I was expected to share things with them. Sharing wasn’t something I ever thought much about, and it was something I just did. Fast forward to being an adult, and at some point, I realized that not everyone was on board with the same concept of sharing that I was used to.

My first awareness of the fact that not everyone was in the spirit of sharing, occurred when I really needed the person to share some information with me. I asked without considering that the answer could be no, and when I heard the word no, I was surprised. Actually, a bit shocked. I asked the person why they were not willing to share the information with me, and their answer wasn’t what I expected to hear. Their response was that they didn’t feel like sharing the information.

Of course, this person could have shared the information I was asking about, but they deliberately withheld it from me. After this happened, I thought about what would make someone do this? Was it out of spite, jealously or was it a control thing? It turns out it was a control thing, and I did eventually get the person to share the information with me, but this was a good lesson for me.

The best lesson I learned from this experience was that there wasn’t a good reason for the person to withhold the information from me, other than that they could do so. I also realized they may not have had the same experience I had growing up, and which when I shared with others, I felt really great doing so. I can’t tell you that this person felt great or any different when they finally did share the information with me, but I’ll never really know the answer.  However, a small part of me is hopeful that the experience of the person releasing the information to me made them feel better.

I can’t speak for others, but for me personally, I always feel a sense of pride and joy when I can share information with others. The expression that it is better to give than to receive resonates with me, and perhaps you have had this same experience?

As business executive, I came up with a system for determining which people within the organization would be willing to share and help me and others. It was a relatively simple system, and it was always uncanny how accurate it was. My system involved asking a person to share something with me, whether it was advice, experience or perhaps a physical item. If they were willing to share with me, I knew that they would be open to doing so again. If there was any reluctance or hesitation in doing so, I knew the person fell into one of two categories.

The first category was that if someone was willing to share, they were a confident person, and didn’t feel that they would be negatively impacted by the experience. The second category consisted of people who were reluctant or who didn’t share, and I categorized them as someone who thought that their “power” or influence would be diminished if they shared something. Typically, information in this case. The people who didn’t share came across as being less confident, and over time I noticed a pattern with both of the two categories.

The pattern was that the people who were comfortable with sharing progressed much faster and to higher levels in any measurable scenario. Meanwhile, the people who were not categorized as “sharers”, were typically stalling out in their careers, and were also less satisfied in the role they were in. Of course, there were exceptions to the pattern I was seeing, but there was a very strong correlation of this one factor of being a “sharing” person which positively influenced their career and the opportunities they encountered.

Worth noting is that when you begin to study leaders, you will often find that the common thread between them is their willingness to help others. This typically means they are willing to share their experience, network, time and information. They also often do this without hesitation. Have you encountered this type of leader or sports coach?

If you are not someone who currently falls into the category of being a “sharing” type of person, here are some suggestions for you to consider “test driving” to help you lean towards being in this category if you aspire to do so.

  • Without being asked, offer to share something you value with a person that wouldn’t expect you to do so. It could be a physical item or something intangible, but that would be perceived as being valuable to the person you are going to share it with.
  • If you are not accustomed to sharing, you will need to begin slowly, as it will feel very awkward and potentially intimidating for you to do so. Beginning slowly might involve donating your time to a charity to help them with something they are working on.
  • Set a goal for yourself of sharing one thing every day for two weeks, and keep track of what you are sharing. At the end of the two weeks, look back on what you have shared, and think about how it feels to have shared what you have with others.
  • The concept of sharing can take practice, and it does get much easier to share with others, and you will be happy to know that it doesn’t have to take a long time to reach a comfort level you can’t imagine being at currently.  
  • Many of us have too much “stuff”. Instead of sharing it with someone, take it to the next level and give it to someone who could benefit from having it more than you can.
  • Every one of us encountered a teacher, and I’m sure that you could name your favorite one. What was it about your favorite teach that you could mimic and teach someone else by borrowing the attribute about them that you admired?

As the year ends, I am thinking about how amazing our world would be if everyone was able to share with others, or at a different level than they are presently at. Please accept my challenge today of sharing something with another person today, and I’ll look forward to hearing about what you shared, and the outcome of the sharing experience.

TAGS: #Business #Leadership #Rolemodel #Sharing #Howtoshare #Whysharingisimportant #Careerdevelopment #Sportscoach #Coach #Aspirations #Inspiration #Motivation #Leader #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Teams #HRleader #Talentdevelopment #CEO #Manager #Management #Salesmanagement

Leadership and being happy.

Yes, I feel lucky. Why? Because the state of being happy is generally something I always feel. Of course, there are exceptions, but my natural tendency to perceive the world is that the “glass is half full.” I realize that not everyone has the same outlook that I do, and I also appreciate that there are tremendous advantages because of my innate nature.

Sure, there are days when I may not be at the top of the happiness meter rating, but when I’m not, it also makes me appreciate and have perspective on the state other people feel on a regular basis.

When I was giving thought to this topic, I was surprised that I had not written about it before. Especially given that last eighteen months of everyone’s world being tipped upside down due to Covid and other non-pleasant realities. Some that we have control over, and others we do not. Fortunately, despite what some people might think, we do have more control over our respective world than they might give themselves credit for.

What I mean by this, is that everyone has choices. Perhaps not in every situation, but the majority of the time they do. Sometimes our decisions will negatively impact our future choices, but it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. In fact, having hope is one of the basic foundational aspects which can contribute to a person’s happiness level. Consider this from thinking back to a time when you made a decision which may not have been the best one. It likely caused you either to have a set-back, or was a contributor to lowering your happiness meter.

As I think back to the impact of people, and particularly leaders I have worked for, I started to notice a pattern in the leader’s demeanor. The leaders who came across as intimidating, were far less easy to approach and open up to. Conversely, the leaders who exhibited what I’ll refer to as “more human” and down to earth qualities, were the ones that I enjoyed working for, and who’s track record for business success was higher than the other type of leaders.

The other noticeable characteristic of the more successful leaders was that they outwardly appeared to be happy. This one factor alone made them easier to get along with, open up to, and trust sooner than those who didn’t have this quality. What impact did this have on the success of the business? A tremendous amount, and one of them was how they were able to establish the type of work culture you wanted to be a part of. It also made you want to help the leader to be successful, and everyone else at the company too. A true team effort, not a siloed team one that exists at many companies.

So, if you are not a naturally happy person or leader (e.g., business, sports coach), are there things you can do to change the trajectory of your outlook or alter your less than sunny disposition? Of course, there are! You simply have to be willing to want to change, and this can apply to numerous concepts. I’ll provide some suggestions on how you can go about altering your outlook, but before I do, I want to share a quick story with you.

The story is a true one, and is about a business leader I worked with. I’ll never forget the conversation we had, as I never imagined having it with him. However, what he told me at first was shocking, as I was in complete disbelief as I first heard him tell me what he said. What he told me was that he was scared to truly be who he was in his leadership role. He also expressed that he thought he needed to take on an entirely different persona in this role, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could put on the charade of being someone who he was not.

When I asked this leader why he thought he couldn’t be himself, he said that his natural personality of being an upbeat and happy person was something he had repeatably been told wasn’t an asset. In fact, he had been told it would be a liability, and that the people he led would not take him seriously if he allowed his actual “positive” personality to shine through.  Upon hearing this, I immediately felt sad that he had been essentially negatively influenced to alter his personality based on some “so called advice” about how to be a leader.

Fast forward this conversation, and I asked this leader why he chose to accept this advice, and I asked him how it had been working for him. He told me that it wasn’t working well, and it was impacting his health and well-being. His business metrics were also being negatively impacted too. However, after having our initial conversation about him essentially exhibiting classic signs of “imposter syndrome”, mixed in with subpar advice on how to act as a leader, we continued to have conversations about how he could become more comfortable simply being himself.

If you are wondering how the story unfolded, spoiler alert, I can tell you that this leader went on to be wildly successful. People also flocked to work at his company and for him, and he is one of the happiest people I know. All because he finally embraced being the happy person he truly was.

So, as promised, below are some suggestions you can consider if you are looking to either embrace being a happier person, leader or sports coach. Why sports coaches? Because I view them as prime examples of how their leadership ability can have such a strong influence and correlation on the interactions they have with the people they lead.

  • Mindset and having a positive and open one is key. Sorry, but there are not any exceptions or shortcuts on this one.
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt, or give them a chance to succeed by helping to set them up for success. This is a quality all exceptional leaders/sports coaches possess.
  • Find ways to help other people. Especially on days you might need to pump up your happiness meter. There are numerous small things you can do on a daily basis to have this suggestion support you well.
  • Turn off the news. It generally is only providing you with negative information. This is never helpful.
  • Surround yourself with more positive people. I wrote an article about how you sometimes need to “prune” your social and business circle from time to time, as some people will creep in like weeds.
  • Seek out doing things and experiencing activities that make you happy, that are not detrimental to you (e.g., exercise, meditation, eating healthy, being outside, listen to music or an upbeat, inspirational or educational podcast).
  • How’s your attitude? Make sure you take a pulse on it from time to time, as we sometimes will need to adjust our attitude is disposition from time to time.
  • You own your happiness dial, and need to take complete ownership and not cast blame on others for the level your happiness meter is at.

The list of things you can do to contribute to increasing your happiness level is infinite, so my challenge to you is to seek out other ways you can tap into with the purpose of leveling up your happiness level. Here’s to having a new outlook on how you can be happier each day going forward.

TAGS: #Happiness #Beinghappy #Happy #Howtobehappy #Leadership #Sportscoach #Leader #Business #Success #Leadingbyexample #Impostersyndrome #Teams #Sportsteams #Influence #Positiveinfluence #Management #Strategy

What do you want?

Oddly sometimes it’s easier to not think about what you really want. To simply go along and not have anything change in your life. Yes, you can give great what I’ll refer to as “lip service” and talk endlessly about what you think you really want, but why is it that so many people do not pursue what they are talking about?

I believe this happens for a number of reasons. One could be fear of actually having what they want become a reality. Maybe they don’t think they actually deserve to have what they want to happen. Is this based on an underlining fear? Fear that they might try to go after something and not have it take place. 

Or, do people not fully architect either in their mind, in a written format or verbally what they want because doing so requires you to have some basis of a plan. Then, even harder, to put this plan into action. 

Let’s stay on the theme of having a plan to get to the place of knowing what you want. Either to do, or to craft as a way of going in a different direction than the one you are currently tracking on personally or professionally. Possibly both. 

For me personally, I approach considering what I want from what would be considered the visualization approach. In other words, I think about where I want to take my life personally or professionally, and then I envision what this would look like. Many athletes are accustomed to doing this, and so are people who have a performance or metric driven oriented profession or life. 

My Dad loves to ask me a multi-dimensional question. The question is “What if I won the lottery? How would this change my life, and what would I do with the winnings?” Typically, he asks me this when the lottery amount is staggeringly high, and the amount of money would certainly be life changing if you won. Of course, having more money than you might know what to do with is fun to think about, but let’s come back down to reality, and take this thought out of the equation.

I only popped this question into this story for the sake of giving you a way to begin brainstorming about what you really want. Think of it as a warm-up exercise. Now let’s move onto moving from being in a place where you are potentially stuck, or have not ever considered what you really want. Yes, this is possible. Namely because people have good intentions to figure out what they really want, but they get derailed at some point along their journey. Either by another person, circumstances, or perhaps because the life train simply leaves them standing on the platform, and then never get onboard another train. 

The train metaphor works well. Why? Because it also assumes life is a journey, and that we all have chances to decide when to get on-board with our journey towards what we want to pursue. Or, if we want to choose to remain on the platform, or on the same train for years to come. Perhaps because we think it’s easier to just go along with life this way. 

What if you wanted to begin thinking about and then putting into action what you really want to do? Below are some suggestions to help you to factor making this become a reality, as I believe all of us deserve a chance to craft the life we both want, deserve and have the courage to pursue. 

  • First admit whether you had an idea of what you wanted to pursue in your life or professionally and whether you have given up on this thought. If you have, ask yourself if there is potentially another way of pursuing what you wanted to, but in a different way? For example, I wanted to be an architect/interior designer when I was growing up. However, I stopped pursuing this dream because I wasn’t strong in math, and I was afraid I would be a failure. Fast forward twenty-five years, and I now act as an interior designer every day thanks to an interior design game app I play every day. Surprisingly, doing this has allowed me to resume my goal of being an architect/interior designer, just in a very different method than I had ever considered.
  • Begin with my warm-up exercise compliments of my Dad and start daydreaming about what if you were to win the lottery. Think about how it might change your life, and write down some ways it would. 
  • In the spirit of daydreaming about winning the lottery, think about if money were not object. Would you change the career you are in? Move to a different location, begin traveling or perhaps financially help others who you are close to who are struggling financially? Maybe you have so much money you are going to need to develop a charity, and spend the rest of your life giving away and donating your money to your favorite causes? The point is to thing “big”. 
  • You have heard of the expression “go big, or go home”. When you are thinking about what you want out of your life, don’t limit your thinking to only things you think you can attain. OK, perhaps have one or two things on your list, but make sure you have some seriously “big” goals to pursue. 
  • Having “big goals” can be more empowering than frustrating, as it challenges your mind to come up with solutions and possibilities of being able to achieve what you want. 
  • Is it possible for you to “test drive” anything you are considering pursuing as your “what I want to do” scenario? Factor in my example above of how I am leveraging virtual reality to satisfy my “what I have wanted to do” via playing the on-line game app which has allowed me to be a pseudo architect/interior designer”. In other words, really think out of the box if you have to. 

Pursuing what we really want to in our lives or professionally is something I have both personally accomplished doing, beyond just my example above, and what I help others to do every day. So, I know this isn’t an unrealistic concept to be considered just for fun. Drop in the comments section what your “what I really want to do” ideas are. I’d love to hear them. 

Tags: #Business #PersonalDevelopment #ProfessionalDevelopment #Strategy #Leadership #Motivation #Inspiration