Organizations are still processing the rapid increase in their cost of capital which has served as a whiplash to people and their teams. When your cash is paying you 4%, you look at ideas for progress and growth through a different lens, it takes more rigor. When your floating debt is going from 2% to 7% or higher you start shedding weight in a hurry. This rigor and shedding can lead to job cuts, real estate being foreclosed, and long-standing relationships being put through the fire of an RFP. All of this has made for a choppy and dislocated 2023 for company leaders.
We think the economic turmoil is going to continue well into 2024 and with that in mind offer up a lesson we have noticed in sport that might help you have a hard conversation more easily at work.
We are calling it our final element because the main feedback we received on our Essential Elements of Winning Teams was that we were missing the benefits of shared suffering. It was in the research of shared suffering that we noticed another nuance for the leader, their players understood the many layers of their vocal tone better and this became a competitive advantage.
The 2023 England Women’s World Cup Team
Sarina Wiegman is Dutch born coach for the English National team that is playing Spain in the World Cup Final this Sunday. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted that she has been the secret ingredient to England’s recent success. The article also traces the formation of her coaching philosophy to University of North Carolina Coaching great Anson Dorrance and his focus on having every practice be a “competitive cauldron”. Another quote from Dorrance could be taken the wrong way. “Every practice, for me, is a fight.”
A fight, is this the NFL PreSeason? Cue the annual clips of the offensive and defensive lines hitting each other in the head with bare hands while wearing helmets…
Is Anson suggesting that the players are fighting against their best selves?
As Joe Ehrmann outlines in his best-selling book InsideOut Coaching competition means to strive with others.
As you are striving there is skirmishing and fighting and watching the Women’s world cup it is clear the ball is under duress and the players are fighting for possession.
Now take this same coach and listen to him talk about his secret ingredient to winning at the time 22 out 24 NCAA championship finals games. The competitive fighter goes to great lengths to articulate in writing to each player how much he admires them and appreciates how much they care for the team and each other. Grab some tissues, it will make you cry, he cares that much.
Coach Dorrance appears to have mastered the art of creating a competitive cauldron that the best players seek out. They are willing to withstand the physical and mental heat to pursue their best collective selves. Then as the season culminates, he is able to call upon that commitment and effort and honor it which galvanizes the players to each other in that championship moment.
The viewing public shows up for the championship with the eyes of an expert and yet may miss all the subtle cues that the players are sharing with each other as they resonate around solving what the other team is presenting. The coach is also deeply engaged in adapting to the championship moment and has in their arsenal all the emotional tools as rock solid trust has been established.
Coach Wiegman is in that moment right now. The championship game is days away and while she may not be writing letters, our bet is she is memorializing in some way the journey and the sacrifice the players and their families have made together.
We can’t wait to watch the final.
Nick Saban Continues to Get it Right – The high achievers and the mediocre players don't get along.
Coach Saban has the trophies, but he also has the tone. Listen to this short clip and then read this article. He is pragmatic and persistent. It is almost like listening to John Wooden. Coach Saban is creating an environment for his high achievers to outlast and outplay the mediocre players and he establishes that in spring practice.
There is an important nuance to creating these highly competitive environments that many coaches miss. It is the tone that accompanies the message. The wrong coaches laugh and mock the losers, which kills the majority of the athletes drive to go all in. The right coaches honor the commitment and effort which allows those not on the bus to understand why they weren’t selected and hopefully choose to reapply their talents elsewhere or recommit to that effort.
We wrote a white paper for coaches to hand to players being cut from a selective team which is here. Getting Cut Updated Feb 2023.pdf
It comes down to the leaders’ voice which is hauntingly outlined in this video by Dr. Jim Loehr who has been a leader in the coach development field for decades. Like it or not, we carry around the voices from our parents and past coaches and leaders and without work, you may not like which voices come out at the hard moments. Dr. Loehr suggests we work on our stories.
When is the Right Time to have a Hard Conversation?
Our long-time readers and clients will know this call and response and answer “Now would be fine”, and yet if you haven’t worked on your tone and established a cadence for keeping each other accountable, when the challenges show up, your people might leave you.
We hope these stories empower you to lead your team up the hard fun hill this fall and into 2024 as we continue to navigate difficult economic times and if you need any help crafting a vision or implementing one, please let us know.
Thank you for your readership and friendship,
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