23/07/2014 - 04:33

Leadership goalposts have shifted

23/07/2014 - 04:33


Save articles for future reference.

Business and sport share many things in common when it comes to achieving targets and goals.

Leadership goalposts have shifted
TIGHT GROUP: Unity and commitment to a common goal are essential elements of a good sports team, and equally in businesses.

There is no difference between success in business and success in sport in terms of the human behaviour involved. The goalposts are the same, and unless there is a strong desire to succeed, it will not happen.Many companies operate within a structure that is not resourceful and is part of a complacent business methodology. They operate under a 'same old same old' mentality, where the underlying feeling at the top is that it is easier to do nothing.

If business leaders are not prepared to undergo regular company 'health checks' that involve reviewing staff engagement, leadership development and company culture, then the potential to thrive will be replaced by a struggle to survive.

In sport there is nowhere to hide. You win or you lose, everyone is accountable and everyone is working towards the same common goal. All businesses would benefit from adopting this simple sporting methodology, however many businesses attempt to do so without success.

Most of us understand the power of this methodology; in theory it's great. It's the adaptation and implementation that many businesses struggle with. The strength of a team is only as good as its weakest link. If you have players pulling in different directions, not moving cohesively towards the common vision, then results will be disappointing.

Having been involved with the Hockeyroos, one of the most successful teams in the history of Australian sport, it's clear that there are striking similarities and common links between their success and the success of many high-performing businesses. At the centre of this success was the strategic empowerment and development of all team members, ensuring a clear pipeline to leadership and engagement.

The success of the playing group was very much about having everyone contribute and evolving younger players into future leaders or fully engaged team members. Then, when any level of pressure was applied, the trust and camaraderie within the team was the mortar that kept us aligned and on track. All players had the skills and knowhow to stand up, be counted and embrace the challenge instead of hiding.

Business can work the same way. Anyone in an organisation can and should be equipped with the tools to become a leader, taking charge of their own performance, and working towards the same common goal. We all want to feel empowered, valued, trusted and heard. Responsibility and accountability promote engagement and buy in. We all want to feel like we can make a difference.

Pressure is pressure, whether in sport or in business. The pressures come from different facets, however the best teams and the best leaders manage it the same way. To beat your competitors in any market, you need a shared vision with everyone in your team pulling together. This is the secret to rapid success, and will enable your organisation to develop a critical mass of engaged leaders.

With the current state of the global economy, many businesses are also faced with the challenge of managers and leaders in key positions overstaying their tenure, limiting possible promotion opportunities for middle managers and inhibiting organisational growth. When your leaders are getting tired, your organisation cannot help but reflect this, thus creating a survival culture.

It's imperative therefore that businesses implement initiatives to enable continued growth and fresh ideas on all levels.

Working as a leadership consultant with several major sporting clubs, former Subiaco premiership captain Richard Maloney has developed a program to assist leaders must know how to motivate their teams.

His top three (of seven) strategies to total team engagement are as follows.

• Neurological momentum

It is essential for leaders to understand that there are seven neurological motivators that are key when it comes to creating change and achieving quick success – pain, pleasure, reward, recognition, self-improvement, self-direction and transcendent purpose.

What we feel is influenced by what we truly value. It is one or more of these seven motivators that creates the ability to effectively motivate people to rapidly achieve peak performance in work, sport and life.

• Unified accountability

This is about ensuring everyone is regularly and publically held accountable, and that new habits are nurtured and old habits eliminated.

Unified accountability is the most effective way to dramatically increase productivity and bottom line profits in small and medium businesses overnight.

• Deep equality

The traditional organisational structure is not the most efficient option for businesses in the 21st century. Instead, successful companies are moving to an organisational structure that empowers and allows employees to make more of their own decisions and avoid the rigidity of traditional models.

Once the team has grasped the concept that everyone is equal and that they are there to serve their team through action, then team unity will kick in. If team members are in it for themselves, for their own satisfaction, or for their own personal journey, then it needs to be addressed, or a thriving culture will not flow.

Traditional hierarchy and sole leadership has its place, but it doesn't have the strength it once did. There is a generational and cultural gap in many companies that must be merged. Up to 70 per cent of the Australian workforce is disengaged in the workplace; at the end of the day, people don't leave organisations – they leave their leaders.


Rechelle Hawkes

Three-time Olympic gold medalist



Subscription Options