Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
Have you ever had that frustrating moment when your team was clearly underperforming? You were frustrated and they were EQUALLY frustrated and despite your best efforts to correct, coach, align, and explain it seemed to get worse. It may be simply that you lost sight of your vision.
I was coaching a talented, young basketball team that seemed to be playing tight. They were afraid to make mistakes. The fact that they would not take open shots began to frustrate me. The team was hesitant and seemed to lack confidence and aggression during games.
My assistant coaches and I couldn’t understand why they were afraid to shoot. We were not getting on to them for shooting, in fact, quite the opposite. We encouraged them to shoot. But you don’t easily forget the look in an 11-year old’s eyes when they realize they disappointed you. The drooping shoulders and body language of a child who is simply crushed. They look up and see disappointment in your eyes as well, but they don’t understand the disappointment is not with them but with yourself and how you failed as their leader.
So I went to the white board and started looking at our problem statement and realized it was ill defined. We were trying to solve the by-products and not really looking at the root cause. We thought the problem was a lack of confidence or frustration but in reality, it was the fact that the mindset of the players was not conducive to be free of pressure.
We realized that the environment we created was placing pressure on the kids to succeed and a feeling of them having to be perfect. We were focusing on achieving perfect results instead of a perfect effort.
We mistakenly put all our focus on our goal to win a state title. But was that really what we ultimately desired? At the end of the day is that what we value? As a goal, it is limiting and time constrained. We missed the mark. We became short-sighted and focused on bottom-line results - not the bigger picture. It was a goal, by definition, but we let it take the place of our vision.
We stepped back and thought about the future state of these young people we were entrusted to lead, and the vision became clear. We want to create an environment where kids are comfortable to stretch beyond their current capabilities to increase their chances to be successful in the future.
With this as our vision, we changed our entire approach to practice and games. We changed how we engaged them as players and people. We shared the vision with them and the understanding that IF we achieve our vision, we MAY achieve our goal of a state title. But maybe not. Whether or not we win a state title doesn’t take away from the vision and the type of adults they will become or from the impact that they will have on others throughout their lives.
When you feel lost, take a step back, take a deep breath and re-establish where you are and where you want to be. Look up from your path and the obstacles in front of you to gain a better perspective of all that is in front of you as well as how far you have traveled. By focusing on your why, on where you want to be, it puts you down the pathway to your vision. By focusing on the process, instead of the score, you will find true growth. That is how you achieve your goals Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.