Q: With the football season going strong and the basketball season just around the corner, I was thinking about how I could transfer the “winning attitude” that sports teams have to my company team. Any suggestions?
A: We have mentioned that leaders improve their company by instilling confidence in each employee’s ability to meet and overcome workplace challenges. Experience has taught us that confidence precedes competence. A person in the office or a player in a game must first believe he or she can succeed by developing a winning attitude reinforced by skill-building practice.
As each person’s talents are built into strengths and then merged with others in the team, a positive energy emerges. This energy force builds and reinforces each individual’s confidence to create a critical mass which is often referred to as “momentum” or “being in the zone.” It is the coach's job to keep the momentum going; so as not to lose the positive energy flow.
Here is a checklist of ten questions to help you evaluate how well your firm is building a winning attitude and the practiced ability to succeed:
- As the coach of your team, how much have you spent in the past year on personal development to improve your management and leadership skills?
- List what time and money was spent per employee over the last year in training and development activities to build on workplace talents.
- Does each manager have a good relationship with each direct report and know what that person needs to move to the next level in the firm?
- Does each employee have a clear understanding of what they can to do to increase their value to the company?
- In the last six months, has someone in the company talked to each employee about their progress in building skills and knowledge?
- During the past year, how many employees believe they had an opportunity at work to learn and grow?
- How many employees would say that their opinions at work count?
- How many employees know the vision or purpose of the company? Of those who know, how many consider their job important in accomplishing this vision or purpose?
- How many employees would say that they have a best friend at work?
- Who would the employee go to with a suggestion, complaint or concern at work?
For your team, the best thing you can do is to demonstrate your leadership through one-on-one interpersonal relationships. You do this by participating in respectful conversations where you recognize your own feelings and those of others in building safe and trusting relationships.
Here are four guiding principles for one-on-one respectful conversations:
1. It's OK to begin a conversation by confronting the other person with questions
that seem awkward but set the stage for a respectful exchange. Why waste time
on small talk? Just ask to-the-point information-seeking questions, like: "What are
you here for? How do you want to spend our time together?"
2. Conversations are not meant to be structured. Be open to conversations that
you are unprepared for and focused on the interests of the other person (not your
3. Don't get pulled into solving problems that may not matter to the other person.
Allow time for the person to get to what's really important. Provide spaces where
people can express their doubts and fears by being a thoughtful listener--without
taking on the responsibility to fix or debate the issue. After all, you have invited
the person to talk about what matters to her or him, not you, so allow time for
the articulation of those thoughts and feelings.
4. Personal transformation happens when the right questions get asked--not by
providing answers. When you focus on the solution, you are trying to sell the person
something. When you allow people to answer their own questions, they discover
what they were not aware of and what is needed to move forward.
Confidence and energy are leading indicators of workplace performance. Effective coaching can happen on the dance floor of conversation. You build employee confidence and energy through coaching conversations that pull people toward becoming comfortable with personal responsibility and commitment.