Hi! And how are you all? May has been an extremely busy month from going to the States for the American Society for Training and Development’s (ASTD) international convention to going to Sri Lanka for the European Chamber’s of Commerce Academy, where I facilitated in a workshop entitled, “The Challenge of Leadership”. Then on 29 and 30 May, I went to Pulau Jerejak in Penang, the old prison for some of our most notorious criminals, for a teambuilding session. Initially I was a little apprehensive as my perception was that it was still filled with ‘criminals’ and the landscape would not be conducive for training. Surprisingly, the resort there was really nice and peaceful, and I had a great time conducting the workshop. Lesson learnt is that past perceptions can sometimes be an obstacle to progress.
Lessons from the World Cup
World Cup fever is building up. Obviously, I am a fan and will be rooting for England even without Rooney. I am presently watching the daily coverage of the teams that are going to take part in the tournament on TV. Whilst watching the coverage, I also got a glimpse, through interviews, of the means that these footballers use to reach their best performances: the dedication, the amount of time spent on training, the single-mindedness to take part and win and the sacrifices made to participate in this glorious once in four years sporting carnival.
As I watched, I could not help but feel that there is so much that we in the management field can learn from these athletes. How did they get to peak performance? What were their training secrets? What was their motivation? Here I would like to only focus on two.
When interviewed, almost all the footballers said that they put in a minimum of four hours of training a day. What was important too was that as part of their training they engaged in a multitude of activities from weight training to swimming, but all aimed at ensuring that they would be able to play their best football during the tournament.
I was just wondering, how many of us managers put in time, let alone four hours a day, to improve or develop our managerial skills? How many of us actually practice or train to be better managers, other then when we are sent for courses? Using an analogy, if we were all Thierry Henry, we would only play in matches all year round and consider that as training, which is what most managers do i.e. just doing the job and using time and experience to make us better managers. This is fine, but there will always be a need for us to learn new skills, obtain new knowledge, re-learn processes. Doing the same job, will only make us good at that job, but will not necessarily prepare us for the challenges of the job as it changes.
Discipline and hard work
Almost all the footballers, acknowledged during interviews, that talent was important, but also agreed that talent by itself was not enough unless complemented with hard work and self-discipline.
They acknowledged that although they did not always enjoy the hard training, they were aware that it was for the long term good. They also had to be disciplined in relation to the food that they ate, their sleeping times, drinks, social interaction, medication etc. What can managers learn from this? Simple, hard work and discipline is synonymous with effective management. Jack Welch formerly of General Electric and Bill Gates of Microsoft who are there in the forefront of the management field, are known to be workaholics.
Hard work does not however mean doing everything yourself and not delegating. Hard work here means doing high value work which brings in 80% of the results (Paretho’s principle). Not all of us can be great managers, but with discipline and hard work, we will most probably be able to achieve our full potential!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I do hope I have added a little bit more to your management knowledge. Until my next newsletter, please do take care.