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The following are four key takeaways from our interview:
Don’t let someone else define your sense of worth. “I went to school on an athletic scholarship and I was a pretty good athlete. But I found myself on the bench and I hardly ever getting to play and my wife—she was my girlfriend at the time—came to see one of my practices and she just basically said, ‘Oh my God, what happened to you? What happened to your game?’ I was performing really poorly and she said some key words that really stood out to me that helped propel my career.
“She said to me, ‘Why are you letting somebody else define your sense of worth? You're letting this coach tell you that you're no good and you're playing like you're no good.’ That was the first time I realized the power of the mind and the power of your self-belief and how the mental side of the game really impacted your performance. I went on then to change the way I approached the game and became a captain of the team, an all-conference athlete and moving on to want to study psychology in the aspects of sport.”
It’s usually a combination of variables that keeps a talented person from succeeding. If you can determine what they are, then you can put that individual on a path to success. “My job as a performance coach is to really identify what variable is keeping people from succeeding. I'll give you a couple of examples. There was one time we were going to make a change in somebody's job because they just couldn't do this job. We'll say for the sake of argument, it was a job that was highly detailed, highly structured, highly process oriented. This guy was trying to do this entire job, and the job itself was a job and a half or a job and three quarters. My job as the leader was to really pay attention and listen to where the struggles and the bottlenecks and the issues were, and try and figure out how we could either address this through development for that individual, address this through systems and processes, or address this through policy. It's never just one. It's usually all of those things and what I had to do from a leadership aspect was to recognize that failure isn't usually just one linchpin moment. It's a combination of all those perfect storms going together.
“For the most part people all want to do good things. So I looked at that job, I recognized, ‘Let me take this individual out of the policy and process piece. That's not what he's good at. Let me build him at the front end, from the relationship, the engagement and the stakeholder solicitation; let him bring the business in and let's support him with this person over here.’ This job was too much for one person, so my job was to restructure it in a way that makes sense. What we found was revenue grew by more than triple by addressing this.”
The best leaders allow people to question them. “The first thing that leaders need to do is recognize when they screw up, right? If you recognize, ‘You know what, I made a mistake here,’ that gives people the ability or the freedom to go ahead and question the boss and the leader. When you publicly admit, ‘I did this and you know what? I made a mistake,’ that means that you're not perfect. You have to figure out a way as a boss and a leader, to create the space to have open and honest dialogue and critical feedback to the ideas that you're pursuing. I think too many times we use feedback and stakeholder engagement just for an exercise to say that we've done it. We have to really use it way in the front end and be willing to change where we're going.”
Remove the barriers between you and your staff members whenever possible. “How many people are set between you and the people you lead? How many different layers? How can we remove those layers and those barriers to move from a top-up or a top-down to a flatter organization? Does that mean on Fridays, it's an open door policy? Does that mean on Fridays and Wednesdays I'm getting out of my office and I'm walking the halls in order to be in the spaces of the people that I'm leading, so our engagement in our conversations aren't just about work?