February 24, 2018

Archives for August 2012

How demanding is too demanding?

Group working on a projectIn some relationships, being demanding is (arguably) required to achieve the highest performance—for a coach with an athlete, for a leader with a team, or for a customer with a supplier. A little discomfort may be needed for the greatest achievement. Deliver the leadership people need rather than the leadership they want, they say.

On the other hand, self-generated, intrinsic motivation may be the most sustainable long-term driver of performance.

Being too demanding may risk being counter-productive (as well as uncomfortable) resulting in a lower performance, beyond the peak, as stress, distraction and tension set in.

What’s your experience? How demanding should a coach or a leader or a customer be? How do you tell when you’re overdoing it or when you’re not being demanding enough?

Will they do better with an adversarial approach?

Three businessmen talkingSome prefer an adversarial approach to doing business. They think they’ll do better if they have more room to maneuver at arms length; more opportunity to a present favorable message if they withhold information; more opportunity to attack and defend. Sometimes both sides in the same trading relationship say they want to go down this line.

They can hardly both be right.

I have some experience of commercial mediation… In almost every case, both litigating parties have been told by their advisers they have a 75% chance of winning in court. From the third party position, this looks a little ridiculous.

As Winston Churchill said with his usual ironical humor, “when making plans for war, it is sometimes necessary to take into account the actions of the enemy.”

Taking a more adversarial line may not be the pushover one might hope.

The making of Gold Medal performance

Jessica EnnisWatching interviews with Gold Medal winners and other Olympic high performers, it’s striking how most of them seem thoroughly pleasant and even ordinary people – very far from the sometime stereotype of winner as warrior. In short, they are profoundly human.

Sure, in the background, there may well be a coach demanding ever higher effort. And it seems that bringing a little more aggression into his game has made a difference for Andy Murray, for example.

Older hands talk about experience bringing the presence of mind to deliver absolute performance as well as winning medals. Younger heads instead sometimes stopping at “merely” beating their rivals.

What this got to do with leadership and people and change and the everyday?

Are top athletes leaders? In the sense of influencing others, and so stimulating change, they clearly are.

So here’s the thing…

The most inspirational Gold Medal winners combine both power and humanity. Neither is enough on its own, for them or for us.