frog lying on back on lily pad

Every organisation and leader is looking for marginal aggregate gains in their performance individually and within their teams and organisations.   It is not the big bang one change that will drive improved effectiveness and a constructive approach but rather identifying a series of small incremental gains that can have the biggest impact when accumulated.  The best blog I have read that explains the importance of 1 per cent gains was written by James Clear which can be found at the following link http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains .  The graph in this blog is a great illustration of how the 1 per cent gains or the losses can play out over a long period of time in an organisation, project or endeavour and how the small things really matter.

Recent watching of sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup and NRL grand final has highlighted examples of where small things not only make a difference but can have a significant ripple effect on teams, organisation and outcomes.  The topic of this blog is one such small marginal gain area which is the impact that the demeanour of a coach can have on their players not only on match day but leading up to major games such as finals.  The two specific examples of this that impress me a great deal is Steve Hansen who is the New Zealand All Blacks coach and also Wayne Bennet who is the Brisbane Broncos coach.  Both are impressive in the manner that they in their body language and conduct with their players come across as relaxed, on top of their games and have their teams ready to perform.  The ripple effect that this must have on their support staff, players and the rest of the organisations must be significant.   I am sure that there is a little of a duck on water analogy happening with both of them where they are hiding their nerves, frustrations, anxiety and other aspects of the role under the surface of the water but they are conveying a relaxed and assured demeanour outwardly which is important.

If we work this through to leaders in organisations, it will have a similar effect.  An aggressive and uptight leader will have a similar effect on their teams and staff.  A passive and fearful leader will have that same effect on their team and staff or cause enormous frustration for others who don’t have the same demeanour.  The intention of being calm and relaxed is important as staff are most likely to express themselves in the most constructive manner with improved performance likely to follow.  This is particularly important when you consider that the role of any leader is to create an environment through developing self-belief so that success can follow.     To back this up, I recently ran a workshop with a team that had a change in leaders in the last 12 months and the difference in having a leader that is calm, relaxed and has built self-belief in the team was very noticeable.

A recent quote from Steve Hansen in an article in the NZ Weekend Herald summed it up well for me:

“I’ve come to realise after being in the All Blacks for about 14 years now there’s no point in getting over-aroused or tense.  If I’m relaxed then the players are relaxed and that’s what we are trying to do”.

Very applicable for us as leaders, partners, parents, coaches and other aspects of our lives.  No one in my experience responds and performs well long term in a stressed or uptight environment.