"Can you write anything on the sport-business thing Andy?" somebody recently asked me.
Yes I can and I have - here's the first offering.
‘So did you have a good day at work, dear?’
A common enough greeting at the end of the day in many working households, the answer to which is based on a straight emotional response.
That’s right: You can take your KPI’s and your marginal gains and your incremental salary improvements and your incentive/bonus packages and park ‘em: At the end of the day our motivation to perform and our sense of achievement is all about How We Feel.
It’s the same in competitive sport: You put a bunch of people on a start line with the same physiology, kit, training history etc and those that get to the finish line first are likely to be the ones that have best managed their emotions.
1. Stress Is Not Being Who You Want To Be
I’ve no idea who said that but it wasn’t me.
I wish I had thought of it because for me it cuts right to the heart of this issue of personal and team performance. We all know people who swear blind that they are a different person at home from the one they bring to work.
So you go to work and pretend then, do you?
Well, they might be able to carry that off for a while if sufficiently motivated, but over the long term? Hmm…I don’t know about you but pretending to be something and someone I’m not day after day after week and after month after year? I’d lose the will to live and I’d be blinkin’ awful to be around however fat the salary cheque was.
2. Performance Is Emotional (P=E)
Again, this one isn’t mine either and I’ve come across many variations over the years. I first heard a version from the then head of British Swimming about 15 years ago.
I recall trying to get this across to a bunch of hard-nosed business leaders.
Think about it like this, I said: All things being equal and over the long term, I submit to you that the following hold true:
• Your people will stretch for you and eachother because of how you make them feel
• Your people will be an advocate for you and everything you stand for because of how you make them feel
• Your people will follow you because of how you make them feel
• Your people will turn away from you because of how you make them feel
• And in many cases, your customers will buy from you because of how you make them feel
Training, practice etc is physical – task-oriented. But the motivation and skills to step up and deliver for ourselves and the people we serve is emotional – and the difference on any given day will be how we feel. Or more specifically, how we choose to feel. Which means that as far as motivation is concerned I think the only question in town is this:
How do we choose and plan to feel how we need to feel in order to do what it is that we want to do
P=E: What Does It Mean For Me?
Take a look at this list of six emotions, (based on work by Paul Chek, 2001)
Now rank them in order of importance for you to experience in your role at work.
Or your race.
Or your life.
Are you highly motivated and productive at the moment? Chances are you’re ticking all the items on your list.
Are you bored, feel flat, or cruising at the moment? Guess what: chances are you’ll be missing some of the things from your list.
How would you describe the culture of your company or team based on this list? How does that list compare to your personal one? If there’s a huge mis-match perhaps your next appointment should be with HR!
Leadership In A Nutshell
So with that in mind, I think that the killer question from a leadership perspective is this:
How do we turn our inspiration – our Cause - into their motivation so they do what we want them to do because they want to?
Put it another way:
How do we help and motivate our people to feel how they need to feel in order to do what it is that we want them to do?
Just as we all remember that particular school teacher for how they made us feel over their technical skills or subject knowledge, so the great leaders have this nailed down: They get the principle, they consistently role-model the application and they have the skills to bring it to life for their people.
So here’s a question for all those of us who are in leadership positions: Are we really connecting with our people? Or just making ourselves feel good…