"Branches & Roots": A Look at Strategy and Competition Through the Lens of Business and Sport
A Banyan Tree Strategies Communication
The final 45 days of the year are here, and we expect them to fly by as delightful distractions abound. We are happy to be closing out another volume of Branches and Roots and want to thank you for your feedback and comments throughout 2016. We finish with four vignettes that will hopefully inspire you to spread the spirit of thanksgiving throughout your family and friends this holiday season. If you find any of these ideas worth sharing, please do so, as a new subscriber referred by a friend is the best present we can receive.
Vin Scully Retires....and Gives Us a Final Gift: Perspective
Vin Scully called his last Dodger game this September at AT&T Park in San Francisco, as the Giants moved on in the National League Playoffs. His career began in Brooklyn in 1950 when Jackie Robinson was still playing for the boys in blue. 67 years later at age 87 he decided to end what has to be one of the longest running media relationships of all time. Mr. Scully was honored and interviewed all season long, and in the final article by the LA Times a quote struck a chord with us on a wonderful way to think about change. When asked if he was sad to be leaving after all this time, he made a small adjustment to a line from another legend, Dr. Seuss and offered, “Don’t be sad it’s over, smile because it happened."
The fall of 2016 has brought to an end many things we wish could continue, not the least of which are the lives of spouses, parents, and dear friends. We wanted to pass on to you this “smile because it happened” quote as encouragement as we work through the endings and struggle to adapt to change.
How Can 14 Wolves Change the Course of a River in Yellowstone Park?
Talk about your head scratch questions; how can a wolf change a river's course? Do they dig on the sides with all their might? We invested the four minutes to watch this video and have found a series of situations to raise the following question: If the wolf equals tension, then where in your life do you need to increase the tension a bit to reach a desired outcome?
As we seek to finish 2016 on a high note both individually and with our teams, how will you play with the constraint of tension to effectively develop practice and performance? Too much tension will suffocate most people and not enough has its own challenges. We have noticed that the best leaders work with this concept daily to understand just how much each member needs to reach their peak. We thought the video introduced the concept in an interesting way, and if shared, could stimulate some fruitful dialog between you and your team. You might consider asking, how can we let the wolf in here a bit for our joint benefit? If you come up with something worth sharing, please do so here.
What Will Your Totem Pole for 2017 Look Like?
At the end of any year, many of you will be asked to think about how to make next year better. This isn’t always the question some want to hear. What if this year was an all-time year? How can we improve on that? We thought we would adjust the perspective with a different type of question. If your life was a totem pole and it takes you an entire year to complete the next section, what should it look like and why will it inspire someone? Hopefully this point of view will afford you the chance to dream about your future and to also realize that your efforts have the ability to encourage others around you to strive forward.
As you dream, if a relationship or a situation is a perceived obstacle, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to “act” it out by using silence or violence to get your way? What about learning some new communication techniques to “talk it out.” Is that possible? You may have been facing this dilemma in your head for quite some time and we would like to encourage you to look at next year as your chance to create a great work of art that could stand for decades. Dream about next year’s edition of you, this is the perfect time of year for it.
Designing Your Team From Scratch? Jack Clark Has a Few Ideas For You
Another thing that leaders do this time of year is think about their teams and how they are performing, and if any tweaks are needed to improve next year. If you are in this frame of mind we highly recommend you watch this 12 minute video from Rugby Hall of Fame player and Coach Jack Clark. He has been the coach of USA Rugby and for the Cal Bears and his players for decades have walked their talk. He is now sharing how to build out a system of values for your team, and once they are codified and defined they can be measured and required.
Two things jump out to us. The first is that Clark is selling the concept of pushing decisions as far out in the system as possible. This is very hard for insecure leaders to do, they are unsure about the outcome and as such want to control everyone and have all hard questions come back through them. This is the definition of a “Kingdom” culture. Clark specifically describes how his first value of “selflessness” allows every member of his team to make quick decisions. They just ask, “What is best for the team?” and the answer appears. This is brilliant.
Clark also highlights the differences between authority and leadership. He articulates that every human system must have a chain of command, yet every member of the team has the ability to be a leader. As you are looking to equip even the newest hire to help your company, consider taking a page from his book and outlining the differences between the two. It just might empower your younger employees more than you can imagine. Authority is how decisions are made, leadership is how you inspire others.
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