During the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Jonathan Kraft - President of the New England Patriots - was discussing where Tom Brady (the famed quarterback who was drafted 199th overall) would be drafted today. Although he is a top-tier QB, Kraft suggested that Brady, even today, would not be a high-draft pick. Technological advancements in scouting aside, Tom Brady has something that is not easily analyzed, but is critical to leadership and performance - 'the intangibles'.
Kraft did not share what the intangibles were. But we can assume they are connected to both leadership and performance practices. Brady has a vision. He is driven to realize that vision on the playing field, in the locker-room, and when out of the stadium. He knows ultimately what he is working for and is dedicated - compelled - to live out that vision. He does so by building synergistic relationships with his coaches and teammates. While watching the Patriots under Brady's command, you can tell they are in flow. He is confident in his abilities, while knowing he can strategically improve. And he is masterful at balancing reflection with action. Brady purposefully pauses and intentionally acts. When off the field, he is able to find a quiet space (often internal) to recollect, reassess, and reengage. And then is able to deliver, through methodical, on-field play.
What other 'intangibles' does Brady - or other greats from any sport - have that we can learn from?
A fantastic and long-time friend recently sent me a TEDx video with the energetic statement, "you've got to see this!" She sent me Roselinde Torres - of the Boston Consulting Group - speaking about leadership. About 1/3rd of the way in Torres asked a question that really struck a chord:
How are you cultivating great leaders? Drop a comment and We'd love to hear how - send us a note sharing how you're doing it!
As a follow-up to our previous post (How to Change When Change is Hard), I thought I would expand by sharing a quick story about what happens when we refuse to change - or rather to mindlessly continue with what has been done...just because.
An American military officer, just prior to World War II, is visiting a British counterpart to review and learn from their maneuvers. The two watch an artillery battalion deploy from their trucks and prepare their cannons for a mock attack. The American leans towards his counterpart and inquires why seven men are assigned to each cannon when there are only six active positions - the seventh man just stands at attention without assisting the others prepare the cannon. The British officer quickly responds by sharing that there has always been seven-man teams. He follows by vocalizing that he is not quite sure why the seventh man is just standing at attention but ensures he will look into it.
Several days later, the British officer meets the American to detail his findings. "There has always been seven-men teams. The seventh was responsible for holding the horses."
How many of us, on our teams and in our communities, continue to engage in the same practices and procedures simply because 'that's how it has always been done'? In other words, the deeply-rooted culture has become so engrained in what we do that we mindlessly continue without thinking about the implications. How many of us have 7th men/women - standing at attention - that aren't assisting in any meaningful way?
Take a moment to think deeply about your team or organization. Where do you have a 7th? What can you do about it?
The National Football League (NFL) just concluded its 2013 season. And with it, came the annual awards ceremony. Charles Tillman (Cornerback - Chicago Bears) won the highly coveted Walter Payton Man of the Year award. This particular award is presented to an NFL player who contributes his time to volunteer and charity work, as well as maintaining stellar play on the field. Since 2005 Tillman's organization, The Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation (http://www.charlestillman.org) has impacted the lives of over one million (that's 1,000,000+) Chicago-area children.
tilt is an organization that celebrates service to community. As important as all the other awards are, this one takes the cake! Congrats Charles and the other finalists! Check out the emotion on display as he accepted the award: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000321596/article/charles-tillman-chosen-walter-payton-man-of-the-year
We thought that it would be important and informative, as our initial blog post, to provide a brief overview of our leadership and performance philosophy. What is provided below is the skinny on where we focus our energy when creating learning and training experiences. This also happens to be where we navigate our attention when creating blog posts...
Leadership is relational. Leadership is about creating change. And leadership is is value-laden - it is for good. In one sentence, leadership is about engaging synergistically with others to create positive change. In order for that to happen, three pillars are critical. Leader-Athletes:
(1) Balance reflection and action.
(2) Match personal passions with community causes.
(3) Promote the three ‘Ss’ of service; systems, synergy, and strengths.
Our leadership experiences are built upon these three pillars in order to create the conditions for synergistically-fueled positive change. This is what we mean:
(1) Balancing REFLECTION and ACTION:
Leadership is a delicate balance and continual oscillation between reflection and action. Effective leaders spend time analyzing and observing themselves, their situations, and their teams. That knowledge is then utilized to act in meaningful and appropriate ways. All of our programs engage participants in harnessing the power of both reflection and action.
(2) Matching PERSONAL PASSIONS with COMMUNITY CAUSES:
Leadership is predicated upon first uncovering and then matching our personal passions with the needs of our community or team. By recognizing our personal passions and community causes, we shift the focus of leadership from power, position, prestige, and personal reward to a more honorable perspective - leadership rooted in the person (who am I, what are my values, what is my vision?) and the purpose with which I lead (how can I create positive change?).
(3) SYSTEMS, SYNERGY, & a STRENGTHS-BASED style of SERVICE:
Leadership is first and foremost about service – What can I do to create positive change in myself, my team, and my community? We believe that leaders are most successful at serving when the ‘S’ trifecta is in play – systems-thinking, synergy with oneself and others, and a strengths-based approach work.
- Systems-thinking is seeing the interconnections and interrelationships that exist and making healthy changes at the root-level.
- Synergy is about being in flow (in the zone) with myself and the team.
- Strengths-based approaches to service capitalize on harnessing our talents, skills, and resiliencies rather than being overcome
by our flaws, flubs, or failures.
Performance training undoubtedly enhances skills for competition. But our belief is that performance training goes well beyond practice or game day. Performance training is designed to enhance every aspect of our life - within sport, within ourselves, and within the community. We focus on three pillars of performance training. Leader-Athletes:
(1) Endure - operate from a resiliency mindset.
(2) Evolve - grow through experiences; both challenges and celebrations.
(3) Execute - act their best when it matters the most.
Our performance training experiences are built upon these three pillars in order to establish the conditions to succeed athletically, personally, and communally. This is what we mean:
In all aspects of performance, we need to take what life hands us (both good and bad) and not get side-tracked. We stay focused and resilient. 'It is not about what happens to us, but how we react and respond'. By enduring, we recognize that rarely (if ever) do we perform they way we expect to. By enduring, we act in ways that empowers us to keep crushing it and attacking the future regardless of the obstacles. Endure is about functioning in a way that those obstacles are opportunities for improvement.
When we learn from our experiences, we evolve. Our performance is enhanced when we 'grow' through our experiences - both challenges and celebration - rather than just 'going' through them. Evolving is adapting to the ever-changing demands of sport and life. During pressure-filled situations, leader-athletes must master the ability to ground themselves in effective thought patterns. This “growth” mindset assists athletes in developing a healthy sense of self. The challenging nature of sport serves as a holding environment for evolution as athletes and leaders.
Those who excel at the highest level of performance know what it takes to perform exceptionally. They execute. They capitalize on being their best when it matters most. Even while under the greatest pressures leader-athletes are consistently connected to and are in control of their bodies and minds.
We envision a world