Have you ever watched a football game and thought about your business? I did that the other day. It struck me that there is great value in considering your business as if it were a football team. The basic structure is set. What matters is who occupies each position — and that includes the staff.
When we look at a football organization, we see specific positions that require certain skills. It’s pretty clear. There can be crossover where a player has skills that fit more than one position. This makes the team more flexible.
We can use the football org chart for a company as a whole, or for a department within a company. The hierarchy works just as well in either. While the structure is important, the behavior of the people in the various positions has tremendous value.
What does it take to become a Super Bowl-worthy football team? The right people have to be in each position. The leadership has to be skilled at coaching the players. Everyone has to appreciate their role as part of the whole and contribute consistently.
The degree to which the leadership directs the team is directly related to how seasoned the team is. A young team — one that hasn’t worked together before — requires more direction and management. The more seasoned, experienced team can work with less direction and more autonomy.
Let’s use the New England Patriots as our example. We can easily argue that the right people are in the right positions from the head coach to the assistants to the entire player roster. There is a respect throughout the organization — everyone respects everyone else’s ability to do their jobs. This respect is translated into expectations. There is consistent conversation about what is going on during a game. Ideas are discussed, plays are attempted, and adjustments are made as needed.
Sometimes the quarterback calls an audible, changing the play in the moment. Members of the defense are often communicating with their teammates about what they see on the other side of the line. Players change positions prior to the snap.
Why does this matter to business leaders? How we successfully lead determines whether we have a Super Bowl team or not. And that is directly related to how successful our company continues to be.
There are four things that we can take from a Super Bowl football team to lead our businesses more effectively. They are referred to by the acronym PECK:
Every organization works best when the right people are in the right positions. It’s about skillset and attitude. Each role has specific functions that must be completed accurately, effectively, and in a quality fashion. It’s critical for the leadership to look first at someone’s attitude, second their skill set, and third, their accomplishments. Too often, leaders promote people beyond their ability. Or they put someone in a job because they need the position filled. Those are inadequate reasons and lead to failure.
Start from the job description. What skills does the person need to possess in order to do the job well? Match them and you are far ahead. The attitude you are looking for is one of team player, commitment, can-do; the person should be able to work independently and with little direction. To ensure you are hiring someone who really is suited to the position, consider their past performance in a similar position.
Remember — a good salesperson won’t necessarily be a good sales manager. The positions require different skills.
Want to get a lot out of your staff? Empower them to take ownership of their job. Many leaders think they have to micromanage every action of every employee. The truth is this — micromanaging signals a lack of trust. When you don’t trust that your employees know what to do, or will go ahead and do their jobs, you hover, monitor, and micromanage. It’s disrespectful and only causes low morale. You don’t get what you are hoping for; quite the opposite.
When you have the right people in the right positions, it’s easy to empower them to perform at their best. The right people have the right skills and know what to do. They are able to analyze a situation and adjust if necessary. They are able to work together toward a common goal. And they understand how their participation impacts the organization as a whole.
Empowerment is a show of respect. It makes everyone’s job easier.
Communication is the key to success in any organization. The more we share information, and solicit input/feedback, the more cohesive our team will be. Everyone on the team should know and understand the goals of the organization as well as the reasons behind any initiatives. Things can change, and those changes can have an impact on how the employees do their jobs and live their lives. Sharing the “why” behind all decisions mitigates any concerns or challenges moving forward.
Along with sharing these details, seeking information, ideas, and feedback is one of the best ways to involve staff members in the actual operation of the business. It may be limited to their role in the company. The point is that open, honest, and reciprocal communication builds camaraderie and increases buy-in.
The opposite is also true and deserves mentioning. Withholding information and failing to seek input tells your people you don’t value them. After all, if you respect and care about people you communicate with them.
Celebrate successes, no matter how small. Acknowledge individual accomplishments. Positive feedback and reinforcement work wonders for continued commitment to the team. Considering our Super Bowl team, there’s a variety of celebration activity, from end zone celebrating to coaches patting players on the head or the back. Accomplishments are celebrated. When people feel appreciated, they excel.
Take a look at your company and ask yourself, “Is this a Super Bowl team?” If you’re not sure, it’s worth a deeper dive. Consider whether you have a PECK system in place. The good news is you can make adjustments and institute changes at any time. You can turn things around and create an environment where everyone performs at their best.
About the author: Diane Helbig is a leadership and business development advisor helping business owners around the world. She is the author of Lemonade Stand Sellingand Expert Insights,as well as the host of the “Accelerate Your Business Growth” podcast. For more information, visit www.seizethisday.co.
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