Firstly a big ‘Thank you’ to all my contributors for taking over my chair while I was away this summer, the break was much appreciated and your input very welcome!  (If you would like to contribute a blog next summer, or be available as a stand in, please feel free to contact me).

Last week the British athletics’ team won more medals in the European Championships than ever before, coming only third to
Russia and France. But among their jubilant celebrations and
enthusiastic flag waving, the coach of the English team, Charles Van Commenee was still not happy!

He told reporters: “The women were a disgrace and the men were not much better,”  he then went on to say how there was still much work to do and that he would have been embarrassed had the British team not won the medals they did.

And when you might begin to think that he is being too harsh, you might be surprised to learn that the team having nothing but respect for this very impressive coach.  He is passionate and speaks his mind and indeed has been described as ‘fiery and eccentric’ but he is also described as ‘calm, influential and really sensitive to a person’s needs’.

And so it is, coaches and leaders must not be afraid to show genuine disappointment when an individual or team has screwed up.  If you are passionate about what you and your team is doing, it would be rather strange not to show it, especially at a time of sub standard performance. 

However, the point is that great coaches, like great leaders, also know how to work on an individual level; one to one.  They know how to listen and to understand not only the words they hear but the context from which they come.  And by doing so, they can quickly decide what it is that those in their care really need.  And by connecting at that level they inevitably win the trust and respect that is so essential in any coaching/leadership role.

So the next time you think about celebrating an achievement, don’t be afraid to mention the bad points too; the wasted opportunities the areas where things could have gone better – speak your mind.  

There is nothing worse in business than a leader that goes around praising everyone, even when their team clearly has not performed to their best ability.  After all failure is failure and all you can hope to get from it is a lesson on what not to do next time.

Have a good week,

Harley