Long before I formally studied leadership, coaching and performance, as a sports obsessed child I would instinctively break down the different components of my game each week and carry out a self-assessment after each match. Handling 7 out of 10, kicking 6 out of 10 etc. I would then work obsessively each and every day with a singular focus on improving the particular area in which I had scored poorly. This wasn’t something that I picked up in a book but rather an approach that I developed organically in an attempt to improve my overall game.
My focus at this young age was on trying to improve those skill based aspects of my game without any real insight or understanding into the importance of mindset when it came to performance.
In hindsight, I found this aspect of sports as a child rather confusing. Why did some of the others on the teams that I played appear to simply ‘give up’ if we went behind where I was simply desperate to win the next challenge, the next cross and next moment regardless of how far we were behind or ahead? Why did some kids take other teams for granted and not prepare for each opposition with as much commitment as others?
Years later as an adult, similar themes began to emerge. I worked in numerous management and leadership positions and quickly came to realise the similarities in all teams regardless of whether they are sporting or in organisational environments. Sometimes I worked in teams that ‘hit that sweet spot’ regularly and we achieved great outcomes while at other times this wasn’t the case.
It was this fascination to discover the components of successful individual, team and organisational performance that drove me to spend years studying it as an adult and to continue to spend hours reading, listening to podcasts and generally obsessing about it today so that I can help others!
On reflection, here are some guidelines for anyone looking to improve their performance.
All leadership starts with yourself. So many individuals and teams are waiting for someone else to provide the solutions or to come racing in ‘with a life jacket’ when things get tough. Are you willing to take absolute responsibility for your own outcomes? Self-leadership and personal responsibility is key to achieving success.
While we are on the topic of success, it is essential that individuals, teams and organisations define what it actually means to them and how they will measure it. Remember that what gets measured gets done.
Leadership can be developed in yourself and others. Yes, it would appear that some might find leadership easier than others to begin with but even those that struggle with it initially, can develop this skill as with any other. Remember, most high performers were not ‘born leaders’!
In order to succeed in life self-awareness is key. This means that individuals, teams and organisations understand both their higher purpose and the specific values that provide the bedrock for their thinking, behaviours and outcomes. How can these be aligned to support all aspects and build a winning culture?
Building upon this further is legacy at an individual and collective level. When your time is up, what do you want your family, friends, colleagues, the community to say about you? Build a meaningful legacy and one that outlasts you.
Perfection is a myth. Rather performance enhancement is a never-ending process. Even the greatest performers in sport or business will have both good and bad days. Learn from both! Observe, adapt and improve continuously. Examine all ‘failures’ (learning opportunities) with curiosity and explore different potential solutions. There is no absolute finish line.
Have honest conversations with yourself and with one another. This means that all teams need to operate in an environment of psychological safety. Leaders understand that they can set the tone for this by seeking honest feedback from team members and respond to this in non-defensive ways. Remember that overcoming adversity and experiential learning together builds resilience, grit and trust.
Today, I am fortunate to work with clients from diverse backgrounds and interests. Whether it is supporting an individual, team or organisation the commonality between them all is their shared enthusiasm to enhance performance across all aspects of their lives.
Joe McDonald, founder of create10 is an experienced professional registered coach and trainer. Providing one to one coaching in person, by phone or online; team coaching, performance related workshops and affordable online courses. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.create10.ie for further information