"Branches & Roots": A Look at Strategy and Competition Through the Lens of Business and Sport
A Banyan Tree Strategies Communication
Attitudes Are Contagious, Is Yours Worth Catching?
The phrase "finishing strong" comes to mind as we peer around the corner at the next 45 days. Plans made for 2016 have been launched, challenged, met, and in many cases are almost complete. If your plans involved some stretch goals it is at this point in the year where the pain exists and the questions linger. Will we make it? Most of our readers are leading themselves and others through these active times, and if you ever wonder why you care about attitudes, we have found some research that backs up what your gut has been telling you all along. Energy transfers quickly between humans. Join us for a few quick looks at how some are improving in the area of team performance.
Trusting Your Spider Sense
How fast can you tell the mood of a room? How is it that in an instant we can pick up the buzz or the tone? Something in our make-up affords us this capacity, yet for decades managers have dismissed the productivity benefits of person to person energy transfer when it comes to getting things done. Often times the grumpiest person seems to be able to reign over all, and decide that smiling might hurt the bottom line. Culture-oriented advocates will run up against the dreaded “what it is the return on investment” and seldom have any real proof behind their soft skills training.
Recently Wayne Baker of the Michigan School of Business wrote a short piece for the Harvard Business Review titled “The More you energize your coworkers, the better everyone performs.” It proves that attitudes matter and can increase worker productivity. Baker writes about concepts like a reciprocity ring, and mapping relational energy, which have been effectively proven to increase the productivity of teams. We encourage everyone to click through to the different studies they have completed as you look to develop your own teams.
Colin Powell himself has stated that “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier” and if you are trying to get the team across finish line it doesn’t hurt to re-read the Little Engine That Could. Attitudes ARE contagious.
In Pursuit of Play
Something has been in the water in Seattle since 2010 when Pete Carroll took his "pursuit of play" practice methodology to the Seahawks. We think his work with Michael Gervais gets right to the heart of attitudes being contagious, especially in the highly negotiated world of NFL players practice time.
Every NFL athlete knows he is a going out of business sale, every down could be his last, and this includes practice reps. Their finely tuned bodies must perform at the highest level or the system will produce the next man up. If that happens, the opportunity costs of being a professional athlete immediately start to show their ugly faces. Hidden by the fame and the glory is the difficulty in skill transfer to a non-sport, normal work activity. In short, NFL players have every incentive in the world to not want to practice hard. “Coach, I got this,” can be code for, why should I exert myself now if it is unclear how it is going to help me play well, and earn my next contract regardless of whether we win the game or not.
Talk about a tough culture nut to crack, yes you can scare them into practicing and try to force it. But Pete Carroll took an interesting flank into this problem. He asked the question, can we create a culture of people aspiring to be their best, and learning how to do that by competing with each other and their best self. At the core of this mindset is an attitude that is positive and adaptable, someone who is ready for anything. Gervais and Carroll have been tapping into their players imaginations and are passionately in pursuit of play. Think about your own teams, could you change things up a bit to develop a fresh perspective on learning to enhance performance? There is some good science to back this up that our friend Dr. Glen Albaugh recently shared.
Its All On The Line at the Ryder Cup
The United States has won two of the last ten Ryder Cups. It’s an ugly stat that very few in the golfing world are letting go unnoticed. Task forces have been formed, greats of the game have gotten into verbal skirmishes of how we should adapt, and it’s been a mess.
Finally we have the Ryder Cup the US should win, a huge golf course in the middle of the country, and the European team has six rookies. Yet the matches still have to be played, and the putts holed. Right in the middle of the event lurks a hard truth. The Europeans like each other more, they play for each other, and they team up faster than the US side.
For us, a group of golfing, team creating, tinkerers, this is excellent theater. We are watching the following themes this weekend at the Ryder Cup, and are curious what you notice as well.
Any way you slice it, this is Phil Mickelson’s Ryder Cup. He bristled under the PGA of America’s leadership, used his well-deserved clout to change things, and has planned and prepared alongside Davis Love for the last two years. He is an all-world performer who loves the high stakes. Watch how he interacts with others, as he balances his drive with being too controlling for some peoples tastes.
The local crowd should have an impact before the event is complete, see if you can notice in the post round interviews if it adds to the resolve of the European team, or undermines their confidence.
Let’s see if the American’s can live out their “13” image on their head covers promoting the "We Are 13" fan campaign and get the Mo (momentum) going collectively.
Book Review - Can You Keep Your Cool When The Building is on Fire?
The Red Bandana" by Tom Rinaldi
Welles Crowther died saving the lives of others in the South Tower on September 11th, 2001. He had ample time to leave the building, he carried others to safety and kept going back up into the fire zone to save more. He died less than 50 feet from safety along with other firefighters. They weren’t running for it, they were planning how to help even more people. The thing about Welles Crowther, he wasn’t a fire fighter, he was a trader for Sandler O’Neil. His attitude in the midst of chaos was that of clear and direct communication to people in duress, to people on fire. He gave them a pathway to follow and saved their lives. His attitude and story are now available for all to learn about in a new book by Tom Rinaldi by the name of “The Red Bandana”. The story of the families love and the survivors stories are compelling and most contagious of all is the courage so many showed that day helping others.
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