Leadership Lessons from the Locker Room

Team talks can have a significant impact on team morale, energy levels and performance on the pitch and it’s often the locker room where matches are won. Once the team is out in the field, it’s down to trust between the managers and players that they have been equipped with all the skills and tools they need  and have the winning mind-set to drive individual and team success. The role of the managers in keeping their team’s performance at its peak is a challenge often faced by many leaders and requires a variety of leadership skills:

  1. Communicating the strategy

In order to communicate the strategy to the team, information and progress should be shared regularly. In the locker room, team talks are short and concise as by then the game plan have been communicated during the week. Often when trying to get across a long list of points, by the end of it the team has probably forgotten the first few which were likely to be the most important. The pre-match talk should be about boosting the player’s confidence and it’s not only about what is being said, but more importantly how is it being said. Behavior and body language are highly influential and can reinforce how authentic a credible the leader is. Misalignment between the message and the delivery will result in getting limited or even zero buy-in from listeners.

  1. Providing feedback

It’s easy to provide good feedback when teams are performing well – and objective, positive feedback should be shared as often and as publicly as possible. However when players need to be communicated a more firm or negative message, it’s best to take the one to one approach. Singling individuals in front of the team in a negative way can destroy the team climate and demote players. Criticism shouldn’t be personal and the team needs to understand that all feedback has one objective in mind – to help the team and all players need to take ownership.

  1. Adapting to change

Business strategies and game plans change – meaning that the communication style before the game can quickly change at half time based on the quality of the game performed on the pitch.  The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and adjusting the game plans accordingly is a critical leadership skill that impacts the entire team. Research shows that 70% business change initiatives fail, due to leaders being unable adapt and what makes a positive impact is knowing how to drive and understanding the human face of change.

  1. Building ownership

Ownership results in individuals feeling fully engaged and responsible for their performance and how it links to the team’s success. It requires the individuals to demonstrate both independence (responsibility for strong personal performance) and interdependence (responsibility for contributing to the strong team performance overall). Those who feel and demonstrate ownership are more likely to exceed expectation, proactively help other team members to succeed and continuously develop new skills and tactics.

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