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Bricks and the City – From Going for Gold to a Poultry Farm!

Bricks and the City – From Going for Gold to a Poultry Farm!

I recently attended a really good Association for Coaching CPD event in deepest, darkest Coalville with Di Horsley who shared her experience and knowledge of high performing sports coaching and how that links into the corporate world.  More about the poultry farm later…………..!

Di talked about the evolution of sport in the UK in general and also specifically about the British Cycling team and the culture change brought about by their Performance Director, Sir (as I believe he is now!) Dave Brailsford.  It starts with a vision , the cyclists were asked what their vision was for the future and also for the team collectively.  I was also interested in hearing how different goals are targeted at different levels, so it’s not just about having one goal, each goal is broken down into individual process goals and targets so if you achieve that, then you’re on your way to achieving your overall goal.

We did an exercise to identify what characteristics and behaviours are required in a high performing team, the following were some of the ones we came up with:-

  • A Compelling Vision that everyone believes in
  • Openness
  • Self awareness and awareness of others
  • Being aware of each others strengths and weaknesses
  • Focus
  • Drive
  • Discipline
  • Trust
  • Leadership

Lets go back to the Vision part.  I think this is what really makes a team a team and distinguishes them from a group of people with similar interests.  Does this strike a chord with anyone?  How many people work in what is called a team but the ‘team’ does not have a clear vision? Something to think about maybe…..  Also, conflict in vision can tear organisations and teams apart.

Attention to detail is also really important, the little details can make a lot of difference.  For example, a cyclist on the Tour de France needs a good night’s sleep and comfort is important therefore, they may take their own bedding with them.  Now I’m not advocating taking our own bedding to the office although some of us may feel that we literally sleep there sometimes!  I do think this links to what  we need as individuals in a team to perform at our best and part of that is team leaders really knowing us and what makes us tick.

Recognising the value of team members is important, but first and foremost we have to recognise the value in ourselves and have that self belief that all successful athletes have.profile wheel

One of the tools that Di introduced us to was the Profile Wheel.  This is used in sports coaching but can also be used to profile ourselves as individuals or our teams.  Each segment denotes a quality, skill or characteristic.  A table can be inserted below the wheel to identify what each segment stands for and also what the meaning of that is, i.e for an individual Project Manager, a skill could be………communication, the meaning being, to communicate effectively and clearly (without shouting at anyone?!)

Another tool I picked up on and really liked was the Achievement List.  We don’t always value what we do and what we are good at so go back to childhood and start there with your achievements, learning to ride a bike, swimming for 10m, (I only got to 5, I was rubbish at swimming at school!).  Move on to teenage years, university, professional qualifications, achievements at work, hobbies and interests outside of work.

If we really look there are loads of things we have achieved that are part of who we are but we don’t really acknowledge them.  We are too busy moving on to the next challenge rather than giving ourselves time to reflect and bask a little!  I think this could really help build up self belief and resilience, especially in the unfortunate eventuality of redundancy, having a reminder of your achievements could help with confidence moving forwards.

One of the key things that stuck in my mind from that evening is that, athletes don’t win every time, they fail but they persistently put themselves out there and learn from their mistakes.

My big mistake of the night was taking the wrong turning home and ending up in a poultry farm, but, I learnt from my mistake, turned the car around and found my way back home.  No comments about women drivers please, thankyou!

For those interested, Di’s website is: