How Loose Teams and D***heads Can Cost You Gold in Your Business
I’ve woken up this morning with the cover story from yesterday’s Weekend Australian Magazine haunting me..
There on the cover is a shirtless James Magnussen and his Coach Brant Best with the headline ‘How it Went Wrong – What happened behind the scenes to derail our Olympic swimming campaign.
What a bloody disaster..
A disaster of leadership..
So let’s attempt to turn a sporting disaster into a Business and Sales Leadership Success.
LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #1: THE FISH STINKS FROM THE HEAD FIRST
There is an old saying when it comes to teams and leadership – ‘The fish stinks from the head first..’
LEADERSHIP STINK FACTORS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Here are just 10 of the ‘stink factors’ that led to one of our worst Olympic swimming performances in 25 years.
- Teams within teams..
- One set of rules for some and another set of rules for the favorites..
- Separate training sessions..so the team never trained together..
- Bullying of young and new swimmers by senior swimmers and members of ‘the cool crew.’
- Possible use of drugs that led to a pre-games ‘muck up..’ destabiliser.
- Little or no appreciation of the history or legacy of the winning swimming culture that preceded them..
- Non appearance of key players and leaders at key events like the team induction..
- Poor ‘high pressure – race day’ competition (Magnussen hadn’t had a hard race in months…He was not battle hardened..)
- Loose planning… loose leadership..
- Little or no team bonding process or time investment.
As the sub headline goes – ‘the alarm bells should have been ringing before the first race..’
There were so many warning signs of poor team harmony – but the coaches and leaders let it keep going.
I note there had been no team psychologist for 3 years – as there had been in previous Olympics – especially where we had been successful.
Libby Trickett, one of the two elected womens captains said ‘We didn’t have the opportunity to bond as a team. We don’t seem to do things as a team anymore..’
(Does anybody hear a warning bell here??)
IT’S NOT ABOUT BLAME – IT’S ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT (STUPID…)
We pay millions and millions to have the best coaching, the best preparation, the best leadership and we see ‘amateurs (and lone wolf narcissists) in action..’
It’s not about blaming the swimmers – certainly not the younger swimmers.
It’s about the leadership group – coaches and team leaders – not creating the best possible environment and culture in which the swimmers are given the best possible chance of performing at their best.
Leadership is about creating, shaping, nurturing and protecting an environment in which humans can discover their best and excel.
Compare this to the write up about the Sydney Swans..
Their culture.. Their acknowledgement, appreciation and understanding of their ‘Bloods’ history.. Their leadership, respect, love and support for each other.
Their team harmony and their ‘No D***head’ rule..
The Australian swim team can learn a lot from the Sydney Swans.
It seems to me there were way too many ‘d***heads’ and that coaches and leaders let ‘d***head’ behaviour run amuck..unchecked or checked with feather dusters instead of ruthless precision.
MING THE MERCILESS
I had spoken to an Olympic Gold Medallist a few weeks ago about what he had heard about what went wrong.
He had already (diplomatically) told me that the leadership and coaching might have been too loose.
That team harmony and respect was too loose.
That Head Coach Leigh Nugent was no Don Talbot. Talbot had the nickname ‘Ming the Merciless’.
Nugent says ‘I have to revisit how I work with this group. I have no problem with being hard line. But I don’t think that’s what people want. I’m not a copper..’
Mate… go check out the Sydney Swans.
You don’t have to be a ‘copper’ but you do need to set a culture where there is no ‘in crowd’ ‘cool group’ ‘them and us’ ‘the special ones’ ‘the ones where the rules don’t apply’ ‘the ones who can be rude, disrespectful and even bullying’….
THE 7 BIG QUESTIONS
- Who was the Head Coach?
- Who was the Senior Leadership Group?
- How did the Leadership group communicate, discipline, manage and lead by example?
- What was the team culture and cohesiveness like?
- How much love, harmony, cohesion and respect was there in the team?
- Who was making sure the team was tight?
- What were the consequences if you didn’t comply and conform to team rules and expectations?
WHAT’S THIS GOT TO DO WITH YOU?
If you’re a leader (and you wouldn’t be receiving this email if you weren’t) there are reminders and valuable lessons in this unravelling..
- All teams require a code… a set of rules to ensure we are all on the same page.
- People need to know the consequences of stepping outside that code..
- Team integrity – the higher the level of performance, the more pressure the team is going to perform under, the less you can have cracks in the team.
- Prepare under pressure to play under pressure… That’s what we do in our Real Play-Role Play drills in our Best Business Training. How you train is how you play..
- Make sure your leaders actually understand the honour and responsibility of the leadership function. That leadership is not a title; it’s a set of attitudes, behaviours and requirements to go first, lead by example and hold the code tight.
Whether it be the Australian Swimming Team, Hawthorn Football Club, the Australian Wallabies, Apple, McDonalds, Myer or Holden, if you want the Gold you have to have the right leadership, the right culture, the right planning and preparation and wherever possible, ‘no d***heads’
What do you think?
How are you managing your team to be more like a Sydney Swans than a Stinking, Loose bunch of egotists?
Human potential is way too precious to let loose leadership lead to underachievement.
With the Olympics you only get once chance for Gold every four years.
At least in business, you get the chance to bounce back, learn, improve, refine and succeed every day.
May we all learn from this very public underachievement.
At least then there will be a return on the investment of all the millions spent on this team.
I’d be interested in your thoughts…
Talking of leadership…..