there was a man who wanted to do something new. He wanted to feel different as he realised he needed something to keep him motivated and after some consideration, he decided to get into cycling.
He was a well off man; plenty of money in the bank and when he researched bikes, he realised there was so many options, but his focus was on getting the most expensive bike his money could buy so he visited the shop that had five star reviews, found a bike, paid for it and took it home.
Early that evening, the sun was shining, the air was still and he’d finished the last episode of The Last Dance for the second time. It was the perfect time to jump on the bike and head out.
Nervous at first, he set off slowly, but as he headed into the hills, his confidence grew and with his new found confidence, he began to go more off road (his hybrid bike was deliberately designed for both the road and off-road)
Then out of nowhere a large sharp rock appeared out of nowhere! He lifted his front tyre to avoid it, but he wasn’t quick enough. He heard a loud pop, his rear tyre began to slide side to side as he slammed on his brakes. Luckily the soft grass softened his landing, but it was clear he had a problem.
Without a puncture repair kit his options were limited. What was he going to do?
The moral of the story is this – Sometimes, it’s not the best that will get you through to where you desire to be, but your preperation and ability to overcome a challenge.
Where are you in your journey?
Are you just starting it, involved and enjoying it or have you had a puncture and now you realise you’re under-prepared?
There are two camps when it comes to creating a culture of a professional sports team
Winning at all costs V Wellbeing Of Athletes
Some believe winning at all costs is the way to go and some believe the wellbeing of athletes should come first so let’s explore what happens in each of the cultures.
Winning At All Costs
The only thing that matters is winning!
The only athletes you want are the ones that have that desire and hunger to run through walls to win and those that don’t make the grade will fall away, quickly replaced by someone else who wants a piece of the action.
Any mistakes will be punished. The coach has one way to coach and that’s to push the athletes to their limits.
The coach and athletes will knock the opponents down, seek to gain unfair advantages and do what it takes to ensure the win falls in their favour.
Losing is met with anger and extra training sessions and some form of punishment.
Losing brings an almost depressing state of mind as the reality of failure eats away at the minds of those involved.
Wellbeing Of Athletes
From speaking to people in the sports industry, there is a sense that when you put the wellbeing of athletes first, their desire to win will be diluted and their ability to perform under pressure will crack. Some perceive this approach as wrapping the athlete up in cotton wool as if to protect them from a hash reality and to make sure they are comfortable at all times.
This couldn’t be further away from the truth!
Who uses a wellbeing approach?
There are two current coaches I’m aware of that value the wellbeing of their athletes at the elite level and they have won championships by putting the wellbeing to their athletes at the centre of their culture.
I’ll highlight some of the key phrases from articles that demonstrate their approach
Jurgen Klopp – Manager of Liverpool Football Club (Premier league winners 2020)
The first thing Klopp did on arriving at Melwood, Liverpool’s training facility, in 2015 was to memorise the names of each member of the backroom staff, everyone from the kitman to the chefs to the janitor.
It was clear from the start that the Klopp leadership mantra was based on cultivating relationships, bonds nurtured through humour, compassion, and the eagerness to help.
Be it victory or defeat, promise or pain, there was the leader embracing his troops, absorbing their experiences into his own.
Klopp is a rare leader who leads from the front without basking in the spotlight.
“have strong people around you with a better knowledge in different departments than yourself” is something Klopp has regularly acknowledged, stressing that a manager cannot “act like you know everything.”
More People Understand The Value Of Putting Wellbeing At The Centre Of Player Development
There is a shift in attitudes towards the power and value of creating a wellbeing culture for professional sports team and blogs like this, and other programmes, articles and individuals are pushing wellbeing more towards the spotlight that shines over professional sports and moving away from the ‘Winning At All Costs’ cultures.
Creating this type of culture within your team has shown it can lead to winning just as Klopp and Kerr have proven.
Let me ask you a question
Would you rather be involved with a team where the manager/coach believes they know it all, they tell the players how good they are, how bad they are, no questions asked, highlight their mistakes to prove to them he’s the boss and when you win it was down to them? Players play through Fear!
Be involved with a team that supports each other, where the manager wants the players to be the best they can be and understand their individual needs and questions and ideas can be aired for the purpose of finding a small margin of improvement? Players play with freedom!
“When the person is feeling valued, trusted and respected, the athlete thrives“
Listen, I understand creating this type of culture isn’t easy for some people, but if your team has had a losing season let me ask you this…
Knowing a wellbeing culture works and brings wins, wouldn’t you be curious as to how you can learn more and implement this culture?
People wanted things to happen fast! In this crazy world we live in, there was an expectation of getting things done almost immediately after an idea had formed and often these decisions lack a certain level of purpose.
Yet in this time of lockdown, there seems to be a change in attitude where we’ve been handed the gift of time and with time, we can afford to reflect and really consider the choices available to us.
Leadership has shifted and with that in mind I’d like to share some insights for the leader of today to consider.
Having A Reason To Change
When you’re losing, you’ve not got leadership right.
When you’re frustrated and anxious, you haven’t got leadership right.
When your team isn’t performing as well as you imagined, you haven’t got leadership right.
But here’s the thing…not every leader will admit things need to change.
Not every leader will hold their hands up and say, ‘you know what, this style isn’t working and I have to learn to do things differently.’
They tend to accept their fate which is usually someone else coming in to replace them.
My question is this – Have you got a reason to change?
Have you got what it takes to be adaptable and flexible to the reality that surrounds you?
Change Can Be Uncomfortable
To change, involves thinking and acting differently and that invites uncomfortable thoughts and actions but there is something very powerful I want you to understand.
Just as a player has to push themselves and experience discomfort to improve, you as a leader must experience discomfort to improve.
Discomfort isn’t negative!
Discomfort when there is a purpose behind it, allows the person to experience lightbulb moments and insights that can quickly remove anxiety and frustrations through shifting perspectives and learning new concepts whilst removing limiting and mistaken beliefs.
Are you able to have an open mind to learning new perspectives?
Taking The Right Action
Once you’ve opened your mind to new perspectives and removed limiting and mistaken beliefs, it’s time to think about taking action.
Action comes in the form of many different guises, one being using different body language, tone and words with people. 55% of communication is visual (your body language) 38% of communication is your voice (tone, inflection, etc) 7% is verbal (your words).
People are very observant and it’s through observation they judge your behaviours and attempt to align your words and tone with your body language and when there’s a sense of misalignment, a sense of incongruence fills their minds as your disingenuous actions leave them feeling uncertain about your leadership.
You can lose trust from uttering a simple few words, then acting in a way that contradicts your words and although this act is so simple, it can be damaging to your team, your production and reputation.
As a leader you want to align your words and tone with your body language and guide your team to success but very few leaders know the real meaning of success so allow me to suggest this concept.
Many believe success is winning games, trophies and titles, having big houses, lots of money and a beautiful partner.
Many believe winning equates to success.
Yet there is an element of success that’s missing.
How many people do you know that have a great salary, have won on some level, yet they seem down and unsatisfied? How many ‘successful’ people do you know that struggle with life and suffer from mental health issues?
The second element of success is fulfilment and without it, winning is just an empty outcome of the hard work you put in.
You must strive towards fulfilling your life through knowing what really matters to you when the glitz and glory are over because right now, you’re sitting pretty but at some point it will all end and as I found out today from reading articles about football managers losing their jobs, it can end in the blink of an eye.
The value of fulfilment becomes obvious and necessary when you leave the game, when things are going wrong and when others stop believing in you.
I’d like to invite you to download a manual that can provide you with insights and new perspectives to help you understand what you can focus on changing to start winning.
“A crucial or decisive point or situation, especially a difficult or unstable situation involving an impending change”
When we put this into the context of sports leadership, the term ‘Crisis’ will relate to a situation unique to that person. Let’s consider three situations:-
Where losing four games in a row could be considered a crisis for one club, another club may view this as part of the long term plan and is perfectly in line with expectations.
Being heavily in debt after a signing failed to live up to expectations may be a crisis to one person, whereas another may consider it just part of the game.
And if you’re a CEO or Director, the lack of wins leading to a relegation battle could be considered a crisis, whereas someone else may see this as a blessing in disguise.
I understand many people in crisis will either try to figure it out themselves, or their behaviour will change and perhaps become erratic as they turn to drink, gambling, or something else, as their minds struggle to deal with the crisis and deflect responsibility through these actions.
In some cases they will hit rock bottom before putting one hand on the ladder and slowly climbing up, but when it comes to getting through a crisis, there is no rule to say you have to hit rock bottom before you can decide to start moving upwards.
False Sense Of Reality
Many people believe the root of a crisis is an act, event or what someone said.
For example, a poor business deal, a player getting injured or another team beating you against the odds.
This is where confusion starts because things happen out of your control yet you use energy and time trying to justify why this happened, and it isn’t fair.
There’s a powerful reality I need to share with you because I know deep down you care.
I know deep down you care about your team, the staff, the fans and of course yourself.
I’ve seen in the media and in articles the physical and mental pain caused when people are in crisis, unable to find a way forward and I don’t want that to happen to you.
You might be asking why I give a damn.
I have my reasons, some personal to me that I’m not willing to share, but I do want you to know, you are not the first and you won’t be the last to experience crisis.
The reality I need to you to understand is this…
Your Way Forward
The real root of the crisis isn’t what happened or what was said, but your PERCEPTION of the issue, not the issue itself.
Whether you are in crisis or not all depends on your perspectives and expectations.
I’m going to throw something out there for you to consider..
A crisis in leadership is only a crisis if you allow yourself to perceive it to be a crisis.
With a crisis comes stress.
Stress is only an emotion, just the same as hapiness, sadness and contentment and these emotions are all brought on by your perception of a situation.
Caring Enough To Move Forward
If you care about the club, the staff, the fans and yourself, there is hope for you to move out of the crisis quickly and regain balance, and even if you have lost that passion for the game, there are still options for you to consider. You just haven’t explored them all yet.
But if you’re just in in for the money, then that’s a different conversation altogether.
Do you know a leader in football that seems to be struggling?
Do you know a leader in football who’s behaviour has been erratic?
I urge you to forward them this article and allow them to see there are options to consider.
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