5 lessons for getting back in the game and changing the playbook

As an HR professional in 2020, you have been faced with complex questions as a result of extraordinary circumstances. Still, as unchartered as the past few months have been, the challenges are far from over. Now, as we prepare to return to work reinvented, leaders and employees alike will look to you to address new approaches to safety, changing roles and job security, writes Natalie Green. 

Damian Hughes has made a career building up both high-flying sporting stars and high-performance business professionals.  He combines his practical and academic background within sport, organisational development and change psychology, to help organisations and teams to create a high performing culture. He has been praised by Sir Richard Branson, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Jonny Wilkinson and Sir Alex Ferguson for his approach to eliciting sustained excellence from elite performers.

Here, Damian shares 5 lessons for those of us looking to lead and succeed through this time of great transition and opportunity (and one piece of advice for Michael Jordan).

Lesson 1: If you are usually a high performer but experience a blindsiding setback, there are clues to help you find your way back up again.
“I start with a simple exercise I dub: ‘Success Leaves Clues’. I ask, when you are good, why are you good? This seeks to find the evidence of previous successes and then break them down into traits and behaviours. These are the foundation stones of where you build again.”

Lesson 2: Whether you’re running back on to a sporting field or heading back to the office, anxiety and confusion about new behavioural expectations need to be alleviated with clear communication.
“In times of change, ambiguity is often the enemy and so whatever you can do to remove this ambiguity, mainly when focusing on the controllable behaviours, is a good place to start.”

Lesson 3: If you suspect your workplace culture is toxic, ask your team this question.
“There are lots of indicators of toxicity and some are more subtle than others. These range from apathy, aggression, cynicism, high absence and attrition rates. One quick question to determine the health of a culture is to ask staff: would you be happy for your children to work here? If the answer is negative, you need to explore why.”

Lesson 4: There is no single quality that leads to success but there is much to learn from our sporting icons.
“Is there an identifiable ‘IT factor’ that superstar sporting champions have in common with wildly successful business leaders? This is the million-dollar question, which I have been seeking to understand during my new podcast series – The High Performance Podcast – where we interview elite performers from sport, business and the arts. I don’t think there is one single factor but a series of them which help sustained high performance.

The neatest summary I have ever heard came from Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion of the world, who once said his success was down to inspiration, perspiration and dedication.”

Lesson 5: The one piece of advice I would have given Michael Jordan …
“I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the Netflix documentary, The Last Dance. I am aware that it is a documentary, which has a clear narrative and has been edited for a specific purpose: to entertain. Jordan was a great example of what I describe as a ‘cultural architect.’ These are the leaders who uphold the standards and behaviours. I would suggest that, based on the clips, there are a number of ways to do this rather than being combative or aggressive. Flexibility in communication is key.”

Damian will be appearing at the upcoming HR and L&D Virtual Innovation and Tech Fest where he will identify five aspects of the winning culture of world leading football team, Barcelona that allow them to find success through cohesion and cooperation. You can register for this free online event today.

Image Source: Pixabay