It was an absolute pleasure this week to join the webinar panel for The Institute of Leadership & Management session on Learning from sport - transferable skills. I sat alongside joined fellow athletes John Treharne (CEO The Gym Group/ England Squash), Kay Searcy (Herts Sports Partnerships/ Saracens Rugby) and Ioannis Kalargaris (Caterpillar Inc / Olympic Swimming) and facilitated by Kate Cooper we discussed how skills learnt from the sports field can be applied to business.
The full webinar can be viewed below but for those after a quick summary here are a few of the themes we covered.
I am fortunate to have rowed with some truly great individuals that were also my good mates but being friends isn't necessarily a requirement for a cohesive team - I know of Olympic medal-winning crews where the individuals were not close and the only time they spent together was on the water. The most important thing to bring a team together is working towards a common goal, where everyone understands their role in how they will achieve this.
Kay talked about good communication and in particular, Empathy - listening and assessing other non-verbal cues in a situation. She spoke about how there will always be a range of personalities, introverts and extroverts and you have to be able to understand why people act the way they do and 'work with it' to achieve the 'wider goal'.
"Setting goals is vital to keep you on target and to remind you why you are doing things" says Ioannis. And to echo this, I feel having a Why? is crucial. Why are you allocating resources to this task? What is the end goal?
We didn't cover this in the chat - but it's important that your goals are SMART. Specific - be a precise as possible. Measurable - How will you know when the goal is achieved? Achievable - It's okay to dream big but keep goals realistic. Relevant - How does it contribute to the bigger picture? Time-based - have a specific time frame.
John talked about setting goals for his regional teams at the Gym Group and how it is vital for leaders and the team to set goals together "Agreeing targets ensures people are committed to them" .
The ability to overcome setbacks and keep moving forward is a trait of every successful athlete. Part of this is having a "never give up" mindset but the other part is having a plan. What will you do if things don't go the way you intended? The key to being able to bounce back is to learn from your mistakes and failures - you don't always win but you can always learn something.
Ioannis summed this up nicely "Obviously you don't give up, but you also need to act smart, you need to take a step back and reflect, take time to clear your mind, and try to find another way"
Within a team that is working toward a common goal, the motivation may differ from person to person. Empathy and understanding the motivations of individuals within your team is very helpful - What are their reasons for doing this?
To motivate others I firmly believe it's about installing confidence. For some people, it might be enough to fill them with praise. But its more than likely, and this is something I learned from coaching, you need to be authentic, and have some evidence for why you praise isn't just blowing smoke. What past results or situations can you draw on that backs up or supports your praise? e.g You've hit some of your best training times and performed consistently for the last month, there is no reason why you can't go out there and have your best ever race.
And finally, If you are after a quick giggle at my expense, feel free to skip forward to 06:10 and you can see what's now known as 'doing a Chuck' -launching into your answer whilst still on mute. Slick as ever...