Whilst the All Blacks’ recent form would suggest they have made some decent headway in terms of increasing their psychological capacity to perform i.e. gaining traction in the area of improving mind-sets, the Springboks' collapse is rather more surprising.
It seems remarkable to me the South Africans, who have been the team to beat in recent years, have not only fallen from the crest but done so in record breaking time and in a thoroughly convincing but uncharacteristic manner. Their lack of discipline and structure are but two notable factors that would suggest they are struggling to identify how to get it right and while it will no doubt play heavily on their minds, it won’t be of concern to the All Black’s.
In recent months an increasing number of Executives have expressed their concern regarding the challenge they are facing in trying to leverage their capability in order to drive growth. The interesting point however is the vast majority of these otherwise competent and experienced managers believe their companies have the potential to advance but, because of the way they operate, they are struggling to realize that potential. Why this is the case is the focus for this month’s issue.
Let us consider a few key facts to ensure we not only appreciate the relevance of this dilemma but more importantly remind ourselves of what is possible.
Firstly – most people in the workplace are using a fraction (less than 10%) of their potential on a daily basis.
Secondly – most companies fail to provide sufficient reason for their employees to want to advance and as a consequence they don’t.
And thirdly, most companies fail to understand the power of uniting people around a common purpose but rather rely on the combination of ‘sticks and carrots’ or their employees’ personal ‘values’ to do this vitally important job for them.
According to research, a company that develops a well-thought-out strategy is twice as likely to succeed than a competitor that doesn’t. However, a company that manages to create the right culture is eight times more likely to succeed. The old adage ‘culture eats strategy for lunch’ was not written by unionists - even though it would be an interesting catchcry for them to adopt – but rather it is a poignant assertion that has been embraced by many of the world’s finest companies.
At the end of the day, we all know that our people are not only the lifeblood of an organisation but the only sustainable point of difference within an organisation. For this reason, I believe it is imperative we take the ‘human performance’ component more seriously – not by trying to do it a bit better than we have in the past, but by making it an absolute priority.
For example, if the All Blacks are to have any chance of winning the World Cup (and we know they have every chance), Graeme Henry will have to do everything within his power to equip the team with the goods to achieve it. In other words, enabling his team to excel on the world stage will be his absolute priority. He knows beyond any doubt the game will be won or lost by the skills and capability of those who pull on the black jersey.
Likewise, your ability to beat the competition (for want of a better word) will be determined more by the capability of your people than any other factor, meaning it stands to reason that a key point of focus for you should be to commit to equipping your team with the goods to excel - to enable them to not only do what is required of them to honour their role but to operate at a level that will allow you to achieve what you are ultimately trying to achieve.
In other words, the purpose of performance and cultural improvement should not be viewed as attempts to ‘offer support’ or ‘make it nice’, simply because the level of commitment will be severely compromised. Rather these initiatives are, at their absolute core, about leveraging capability and brand differentiation in order to drive growth and profitability. The added bonuses most assume to be the rationale for such schemes are valuable in themselves but they are not the purpose behind these investments. In other words, paying lip service to such things, as most organisations do, is without question the surest way to disengage the very people you are trying to capture and unite.
I would also emphasize the point that history is often our greatest inhibiter. By that, I mean we as individuals, organisations, or communities are often inhibited by our history or at the very least, by perceptions of history. The fact is the majority of us were not educated by masters of leadership. The majority of us did not have the privilege of being deliberately developed by persons of great wisdom in order to add value to something we believe in. Yet the fact remains that every one of us in a leadership position has the opportunity to rewrite history, to make a difference to not only the way we as individuals function, but to the way those whom we lead function.
For this reason, I believe it is important to remember that you have the opportunity to choose to engage with your people in a profoundly different way. To cause them to come to the realization that you believe in them and their potential to advance - meaning you could if you chose, gain a mandate that will enable you to become relevant to their development and ability to add value and therefore more useful to the company you represent.
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