There are many leaders and coaches I admire, whether they be in the sporting world or the business world. What I love about these leaders is that there is always something to learn from them, as they each have a slightly different perspective on leadership and development, based on their background, their environment and who has influenced them in terms of other leaders and coaches. There are 2 coaches in particular I really admire from the AFL football environment – Alistair Clarkson and the late Dean Bailey, especially when it comes to leading people. They both have slightly different philosophies around football strategy and how to play the game, however, they both are very similar in terms of their unrelenting expectation around standards of excellence and what is required in order to be an elite AFL player. Their players love them, because they know that they are 100% focussed and dedicated on helping them become the very best they can be. And at the same time, players can be very afraid of them as well because of their unrelenting pursuit of excellence and the standards they expect.
For some players, this can be too much, and they fall by the wayside and yet for others, they rise to the challenge, and find themselves setting new benchmarks and taking their games to new levels that even they did not believe was possible. Both coaches were able to tap into an almighty powerful force and take advantage of it, which not only allowed their players to perform at much higher levels, it had a profound impact on the team performance as well.
What is this almighty force?
It is your constant companion.
It is your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
It will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
It is completely at your command.
Half of the things you do you might as well turn over to it and it will do them – quickly and correctly.
It is easily managed – you must be firm with it.
Show it exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons, it will do it automatically.
It is the servant of great people, and alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, it has made great.
Those who are failures, it has made failures.
It is not a machine though.
It works with the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a person.
It may be run for profit or be run for ruin – either way it makes no difference to it.
Take it, train it, be firm with it and it will place the world at your feet.
Be easy with it and it will destroy you.
What is it? It is Habit.*
Habit is so powerful that it has resulted in some players enjoying outstanding & highly successful careers, whilst others are out of the system within 2 years. And both coaches knew that in order to change the levels of performance of the players, and hence the results, they needed to focus on developing new successful habits, especially in an environment that was constantly changing.
One example in particular that stood out for me was the strategy that Dean Bailey implemented whilst at the Adelaide Crows, with a particular player in order to transform his approach and performance. This player was a middle tier player, not yet elite, but Dean saw that he had the potential to become elite. On the field, he had developed certain habits which made him predictable and almost one-dimensional. Rather than ‘work’ on this game, Dean instructed the player to drive a different route to training each day for the next 3 weeks. His theory was that the player had gotten himself into a rut and had formed habits which were predictable and not delivering the outcomes he wanted. So through changing it up and doing something different and bringing in a bit of variety, the player was developing new habits which Dean believed would also play out in his game. The result? The player, instead of being one-dimensional and predictable on the field, now had more variety in his game, he was much less predictable, making it more difficult for opposition teams to match up on him, and eventually he became an elite player, fulfilling the potential that Dean saw in him.
So whether you are a weekend or elite sportsperson, sales executive or sales leader, you have the ability to tap into this almighty force and exponentially improve your performance and results. Here are some quick tips to help you :
- Be crystal clear on the outcome you are seeking, and be very specific. Is it a specific sales number, income level or sales close rate?
- Review you current routines and behaviours. Are these behaviours going to lead to the result you are wanting to achieve? If the answer is yes, awesome, keep doing it. If not, something must change – otherwise the result will not change.
- Seek out someone who is getting the results you are wanting to achieve and analyse the behaviours and actions they are taking. Obviously, place an integrity filter over it, and if it stacks up, begin modelling this behaviour. This will develop new neural pathways in your brain and over time, a new habit will form.
- Understand that change will not happen overnight – it will take time. You must persist and prioritise the right things in order for the habit to form. Then the result will almost take care of itself.
- Constantly check progress and keep focussed on the outcome. Know that you may have to tinker a little as you move forward, and ensure you have someone who can be your sounding board or accountability coach. They will help you keep focussed.
- Know that well formed habits, which are linked to a crystal clear outcome, will enable you to have higher levels of confidence when the pressure hits. As you have developed new neural pathways, many of your behaviours will be automatic, allowing you to focus on the execution of the behaviour rather than the technique of the behaviour. This is how great people are able to perform at an elite level under immense pressure.
Tap into this almighty force, take full advantage of it, and watch your results skyrocket!!
To your continued leadership success.
If you want to know how you can better persuade and influence your team, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
* adapted from the poem, I Am Habit.
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Darren is a Sales Leadership and Sales Performance Coach, Facilitator & Speaker. He is an experienced and committed coach with a background of sales leadership success in large organisations. He applies a genuine focus to coaching and developing high performing sales leaders who are looking to unleash the potential of themselves and their teams.