Failure, Fall person, or Finding my feet?

As a child growing up in the King Country, sport was part of my life; a very big part. From going with my Dad to watch him coach local rugby, watching him play alongside greats such as Colin Meads, or watching my parents battle it out on the bowling-green, it was ever-present.

My adult life has also been filled with sports, be it in teams or individually. Sport has been bred into me, and for that I am grateful.
There are also many life-lessons learned through sport, two of which are grit and determination.

When the chips are down you have to dig-deep, haul yourself back up and focus on the task at hand, then give it all you’ve got. This learning has stood me in good stead for many of life’s challenges to date.

As leaders, these are qualities we also develop. When things get tough, we reach deep within ourselves, bring-in those we need to move forward and get sh#t done.

My wondering this week however, is as leaders, how are we nurturing others to develop their own grit and determination?

When they make a mistake, do we see them as a failure and either dismiss or rescue them?

Or do we make them the fall-person, and blame them for the mistake?

Or do we see it as them finding their feet?

To put it into context…

Saturday night I was watching provincial rugby on TV. One newcomer on the field was brimming with excitement and nerves. Unable to harness this energy, he dropped the ball, missed tackles and caused an opposing try.

Now his coach could’ve got nervous at this and taken him off the field the moment he made a mistake. Instead you could see that guidance was given to him, and he continued on, showing glimpses of stunning play. You could see him lift his head, steel his jaw and just get back into it. Even when he unfortunately caused an opposing try, his team-mates still went up to him, patted him on the back or rubbed his head and rallied around him. He was not their fall-guy. Eventually after a good length of play, he was taken off the field, which was done in a way that left his mana intact.

This athlete was a newcomer to this level of play. He was finding his feet. His coach didn’t haul him off at the first mistake. Instead he gave him the opportunity to dig-deep, to find his grit and to get a taste of what it took to compete at that level.

As leaders how are you nurturing the newcomers?

  • Do you rescue or bench people when they make a mistake, or don’t do it your way?
  • Do you blame or stifle them?
  • Or, do you give them ‘field-time’ and offer them support and guidance?
  • Do you know the fine line between breaking someone and giving them a break?

How are you coaching your newcomers to find their feet?

Like a lot of my clients, you might be wondering how to keep your learning initiatives going in these disruptive times. I’m in the thick of creative planning with many clients about how we can help their people to thrive, and we’re coming up with some super-cool solutions. I am also still coaching and mentoring, and holding professional learning sessions virtually. If you’d like to chat about what’s possible, drop me a line.

MA :)

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