Well done Europe and commiserations to the USA who came very close to nailing it. Great golf but what can we learn from it that would be useful in business?
Well the first thing to say is that everybody on both teams were great golfers; that’s a gimme. Each player has enormous talent and ability but more than that they are used to delivering under pressure and in the spotlight. Pretty similar to life in the second decade of the 21st century really: everybody is pretty good. The recession has cleared out most of the poor performers so quality is no longer the edge it used to be.
So what was it that made the European team raise their game and win? I think it came down to 3 things.
Jose Maria Olazabal provided truly great leadership: support, discipline, belief all in abundance. After the win he said to his team “All men die, but not all men live. And you have made me feel alive again this week”.
As Rory McIlroy put it “He has made us cry in the team room this week, some of us have broken down into tears with some of his speeches”. Even after the game was won Olazabal was urging on Francesco Molinari to win his match.
Never underestimate the power of inspired leadership.
Passion for the Cause
The late Seve Ballesteros became the cause for this European Ryder cup team. Olazabal had partnered him on numerous Ryder Cup teams in the past and had a special bond that went beyond their shared homeland. But Seve was so well liked and respected he became the cause that everybody rallied around.
Olazabal said ”Seve will always be present with this team” a sentiment added to by Sergio Garcia who said “We did believe, there’s no doubt that we’ve been inspired by Seve, through our captain.” Again Rory McIlroy summed it up “knowing that Seve’s looking down on us, it’s just been one of the most incredible days that I’ve ever had on the golf course.”
Wanting to win is natural in all sports people but having a shared cause that everyone has a passion for lifted their performance to a different level and one that the Americans were unable to match.
Having a shared passion for a single cause that sits above the obvious prize makes all the difference in the world.
There may have been momentary doubts; there must have been. To be faced with 12 matches and the opposition only has to win 4 of them would seem an impossible task especially when faced by a talented and pumped up USA team but they always hung on to the belief “we can win”.
Justin Rose said after his amazing win over Phil Mickelson “Jose told us to believe and we really wanted to, we really did.”. Belief helps you to pick yourself up when you have fallen and can steer you through the narrowest of gaps to pass the finishing line first. In short, belief promotes persistence – which will surely conquer all that lies before it.
Following one of Olazabal’s dressing room talks and even though they were 4 points adrift Ian Poulter said ”We weren’t four points down. We felt like we were all square. We just knew we had a chance. And do you know this is history right here.”
If you believe in yourself you really can achieve miracles.
So what can we take away from all this?
In business we can’t just rely on being better than the next firm we must look within ourselves and ask these questions: do we really have a cause not just a target and are we all passionate about it? Do we believe in ourselves and those around us and finally do our leaders support, believe and inspire us to achieve the seemingly impossible.
So, with the week in front of us about to unfold how do our organisations match up to the European Ryder Cup Team of 2012?
This is a guest post by Barry Hoffman who is the Group HR Director of Computacenter. I have known Barry for many years and I can honestly say he is one of the most productive and successful leaders I have ever worked with. Lazy? Perhaps not but he rarely attends meetings, works a standard day and always has time to meet useful and interesting people. Read on to find out how he does it all…..
When the Flair man asked me to write a blog on how to be productive, successful and lazy, I predictably and inevitably said I couldn’t be bothered, and even if I could, I’d be outsourcing it to some lesser mortal. But after some, frankly, undignified, begging for a man of his maturing stature and the promise of fine dining, I relented and so here is the secret to a productive and successful career: Let people do their jobs.
Believe it or not, it’s easier to write than it is to do – but it soon becomes a habit. I am, I think, quite successful – by lots of measures (financial, hierarchical, family, health and so on), but I am apt to look on the bright side, I grant you.
In all seriousness though, to be successful you need to let go – trust those around you (give them support, guidance and clear boundaries) but don’t interfere with the experts, listen to what those around you say and then allow them to fulfil their potential. Don’t take opportunities from them – they may do things 80% the way that you wanted but the other 20% might be better than you could ever imagine – or indeed better than you could ever achieve yourself.
So many of us feel the need to speak, to have it our way and to be superior by knowing more about everything than those beneath us. It’s primeval and natural. But overcome this and you are unlocking a rich seam of productivity. You will achieve more through others than you ever imagined and, if you do it with magnanimity, encouragement and genuine permission, then you will have the most loyal, engaged and committed team you could hope for. They will cover more ground than you could ever hope to alone. It’s no accident that Newton’s quote “standing on the shoulders of giants” is a cliché. Use the strengths of those around you and you can cover great distance (operationally) and see for miles around (strategically).
This approach is hard work and takes lots of practice. But once you’ve cracked it you will be productive and successful. If you want to know how to start then my advice is to listen, really listen to your people, let them do their jobs and try as hard as you can to encourage, support, guide and not interfere.
And how do you do that – well of course, it helps if you’re lazy!
Have you heard that old expression: when you’re up to your arse in alligators it’s difficult to remember that you were hired to drain the swamp? Well, if it resonates you probably need to check your pulse because you could have already turned into a corporate zombie without even realizing it. Allow me to explain.
Have you ever watched any of those dreadful B-movies involving zombies swathed in rags and their flesh falling off their bodies limping wide-eyed and groaning towards their hapless victim? A gruesome vision, perhaps but a vivid reminder of what it’s like to work in today’s corporate world? Surely not!
Well I happen to think there is more than a passing similarity. They seem acceptant with their lot, they’re all behaving in the same way and, worse of all, they are entirely oblivious to anything except what is in front of them.
Think about it. Where do you get any thinking time these days? Years ago, before the advent of hand-held devices and email, travelling; holidays; lunchtimes and home time all belonged to you but now you are available 24/7 and, unbelievably, some people have become to expect this kind of access as the norm!
The upshot of this is no thinking time. Just like the zombies we have to concentrate on the next thing in front of us. Oblivious to all else we process that next email, take that incoming call, turn out for meetings (most of which are pointless) and stress about deadlines. Everything, it seems, is sucking our time, energy and head-space from us leaving no time to think and no time to question. Voila! We have become corporate zombies.
Well it doesn’t have to be this way.
In America there is a new concept that I would like to introduce to you called Corporate Stillness. The belief behind it is that the more senior you are in an organisation the more ”empty time” you need so that you can think, reflect and challenge the status quo – that’s how progress is made.
Apparently you can stay in a cliff-top room in the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur California where you pay extra ($2285 per night per room) for a room which does not have a TV, wifi or a mobile signal – only in America! But the reasoning is sound: you need time to think about the big idea, draining the swamp if you will.
Added to that Nicolas Carr performed a series of tests as research for his book (The Shallows) that found after spending quiet time often in rural surroundings, people “exhibited greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition”. In other words quiet time makes you smarter and sharper!
We all know we should be working on our business as well as in our business but if we don’t find the time it just won’t happen.
My point is this: ideas are the currency of greatness and they don’t come whilst you’re arse-deep in the corporate equivalent of snapping green monsters. Creativity and innovation need time so you simply must create some stillness in your lives otherwise you are just going to groan and limp your way through one corporate morass after another.
My advice is consider adopting the following: -
- When you go on holiday spend time before you go arranging things so you don’t have to check in every day. Give somebody access to your emails and get them to do it instead – don’t fall for the illusion of your own indispensability!
- Turn off all you mobile devices every second journey you make especially to and from work.
- Do not wear a watch or check your emails on Sundays.
So there we have it – avoid being a corporate zombie and achieve great things by showing a little back-bone; turning off your Crackberry and creating some stillness. It sure works for me.
Here’s a funny thing. A friend of mine recently implemented an enormous Internet based computer system for his client a large retail company in the UK. His team had worked miracles to deliver the thing within the expected time and budget constraints and he was both proud of, and deeply grateful for, their efforts.
So instead of attending a Friday management briefing he took them out to the pub and bought them a celebratory lunch that “ran over” a little. The team were highly delighted, his management colleagues were not.
I’ll tell you why this story connected with me: this kind of gesture is no longer common in corporate Britain. I’m not talking about a celebratory lunch, necessarily, but rather any kind of celebration for a job well done.
When I was in recruitment we regularly treated ourselves with anything from a cream cake to an afternoon off and a taxi ride home depending upon the scale of our victory and we weren’t the only ones to do so. I’m not sure that recruitment is anywhere near as much fun these days.
So why don’t we celebrate as much as we should?
For starters I think everything we do at work happens at 100 mph with very little time to spare for anything that is not screaming at us, poking us in the ribs or just about to collide with us.
Like many people I do more than one job; in fact I do 4: salesman, consultant, researcher and author. Also like a lot of people there is always something I could be doing, knock a few more things off the to-do list and try and get ahead of the game.
“Another sale, great. On to the next” This cannot be right so here’s 5 reasons to celebrate: -
- It’s enjoyable – celebrating victories is great fun and life is meant to be fun isn’t it?
- People need recognition – it’s one of the 3 key basic needs human beings require in order to feed their souls.
- Team spirit – even if everybody knows that they have done a good job having the boss demonstrate this lifts morale and helps team spirit.
- Breaks the slog – one thing relentlessly following another in some sort of corporate production line. Nah!
- Incentives – do a great job and get something nice. Can this really have an effect?
Here’s a thing. Just before Christmas I was the keynote speaker at the Eversheds IT conference in Birmingham. The event was a combination of me speaking, which took up most of the afternoon, some group work, a couple of excellent videos (not involving me) and then a round up by the CIO.
We then all got changed into our penguin suits and posh frocks and hoovered up some really delicious scoff. After dinner the CIO ran an awards ceremony for the staff and key suppliers who had also been invited to attend.
Now the reason I mention this is two-fold: -
- The fact that they had invited the suppliers really did make us feel part of the team and to be presented with awards for various things (not me I hasten to add) was even more inspiring.
- The employee awards represented genuine achievement across the whole department and whilst everybody could see the fun side they were also taken very seriously; and so they should have been.
As the awards were being presented you could see the recipients grow taller by the second. Honestly it was a pleasure to watch.
I didn’t see anybody receive an award that the room thought was ill-deserved which only served to strengthen the team spirit and boost morale. Sadly I was flying to Germany very early the next day and so could not stay for the disco but I heard later a good time was had by all. Not surprising: there was enough energy buzzing around to give EON a run for its money.
As I have mentioned on many occasions if you want to establish rapport and strengthen your management techniques one of the key things you need to do is show people that they are appreciated and valued. This awards dinner, and the event as a whole, managed to achieve this with room to spare.
You may not be able to organise an event for your team or your department on the same scale but it doesn’t have to be. Fair and just public recognition for exceptional results or effort above and beyond the call of duty in say, a team meeting will do just as well.
In these hard times you may not be able to award large pay rises or offer promotions and even training is being cut back (shame on you ) but you can recognise contribution which will go some way towards filling the gap.
Congratulations Paul, it was a truly great event.
I enjoy speaking and writing. I know I’m not brilliant at either but it doesn’t make any difference to me: I am good enough to get by and I enjoy it. Moreover this kind of Showcasing is a vital part of my new business acquisition strategy.
I learned a long time ago that if you want to make a big impression, get your message across and stand half a chance of engaging your audience you should learn how to use rhetoric, so imagine my surprise when I read the best ever summary of the ancient skill in the Mail on Sunday magazine the other weekend. I have placed a scanned copy of the article on my LinkedIn profile so if you missed it (or can’t bear to read the MoS) feel free to swing by and download it.
This blog is way too small to even contemplate explaining the power and deployment of rhetorical devices so instead I thought I’d list out my “Top 10 things you need to know about Rhetoric” to whet your appetite enough to investigate further. Here we go then: -
- Rhetoric was invented by the ancient Greeks 2500 years ago and has been used extensively by pretty much every politician since. The Romans loved it.
- Western politicians have been trainined in it for years – think JFK, Mrs Thatcher and Tony Blair (less so Gordon Brown).
- It is made up of a collection of devices designed to connect with the audience or readership.
- Rhetoric is divided up into three parts: Ethos (the credibility of the speaker); Pathos (how the audience feels) and Logos (the logic of the piece)
- Ethos and pathos are what wins hearts and minds not Logos. Strange but true – feelings rule OK!
- Rule of three: “Education, Education, Education”, “the Son the Father and the Holy Ghost”, “Location, location and location”. “Yes we can”. Also this blog entry is packed with examples.
- Alliteration: “the People’s Princess”
- Metaphors: “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get”
- Reversal: “Ask not what your country can do for you but instead ask what you can do for your country”
- Rhetoric is like salt: a little will greatly enhance the flavour but too much will spoil the dish. (This is a metaphor by the way)
The objective of this blog was to make you inquisitive about rhetoric, make you suspect that it could strengthen your communication skills and perhaps want to find out more. If you do get the scanned version of the article and if this turns you on try buying “Lend Me Your Ears” by Max Atkinson which explores it in much more depth.
Well according to Lt. Col Ivan Yardley it is and after attending one of his breakfast briefings this morning I believe he is probably right.
Today he was talking about decision making in the military as compared to the business world. It was an hour well spent as far as I’m concerned but one thing Ivan said really resonated with me.
“When the battle starts the plan becomes irrelevant” (a paraphrase of a famous Helmuth von Moltke quotation). What he meant was that in a combat situation there is very little time for a command and control type of management style. People have to make decisions and act independently and soldiers are trained to do this. Waiting for orders can get you killed.
Is business like this? Well apart from the lack of blood and gore (unless you’re working on the stock exchange of course) I think it is. Certainly decisions have to be made a lot quicker these days and there are so many things that can all happen at once making the decision making process hard.
Unlike the military, however, corporate Britain has too much command and control, not enough empowerment and a surplus of “that’s not my job matey”.
So what is true empowerment? In Flair we put it down to these three conditions: -
- Authority – can you make a decision on your own within set boundaries?
- Mistakes – can you make legitimate mistakes without fear of blame or reprisal?
- Scrutiny – can you operate without undue, unscheduled and unwanted interference by your boss?
I wonder how empowered you are based on the above and, perhaps more importantly, how empowered are your team members? Lack of empowerment means you become an unscalable leader because you have to be involved with too many of your teams day to day operations.
Can you imagine what would happen in a combat situation if the lieutenant had to be involved in most of the imperative decisions a regular soldier needed to make?
I will blog another couple of points that Ivan made over the coming days but in the meantime if you want to learn more about him then check out his website http://www.zulucreative.co.uk.