Whether you’re at work, in a sporting team or engaged in a community project, your level of success will depend on the support, encouragement and opportunities to learn and grow you get from your managers, coaches and peers.
Today I met with 2 senior women working for a company that’s suffering from external financial pressure and intense scrutiny from their shareholders. Both described the environment as competitive, chaotic and finger pointing. In crisis, the senior male leaders resort to micro management and autocratic decision making. People have been side lined, over-ruled and implicitly feel distrusted and undervalued. Information is scarce, communication is focused on what’s not working and feedback is negative. People feel anxious. Many women in particular feel undervalued and full of self doubt. Few people are thinking rationally, they’re unproductive, many might leave and it’s unlikely that this business will recover quickly.
Last weekend I participated in my very first dragon boat regatta. Dragon boats comprise crews of 22 people who must all work as a cohesive team paddling powerfully and in unison. My team is an all women’s team and I joined with a dozen others, just 2 weeks ago.
The women come in all shapes and sizes, levels of fitness and aptitude. In two weeks we have learnt to paddle with power, use muscles we didn’t know were there and have been provided with honest feedback directed at helping us learn. The coaches and captains have been direct, honest, encouraging, empathic, full of praise and feedback all directed at creating a successful, sustainable team.
I have learnt many new skills in a very short period of time and feel full of enthusiasm for my new sport. This novice team came third in our first competition and everyone feels supported, encouraged, motivated and energised. We’re poised and ready for success.
It has been many years since I have had such enthusiasm for a team sport or been on the receiving end of such constructive, motivating, leadership. The difference in approach is striking. The results will be too.