Champions are made on a Thursday morning…
Were you one of 9 million tuned into the hockey final when Great Britain women's team won gold in Rio?
As viewers and fans we only get to see those pinnacle moments. We are not party to the training programmes, adaption and hard work being undertaken over a four year period.
Worth reflecting that this gold was no fluke and was at least 8 years in the making. Back in 2008 GB women’s hockey team were ranked 11th in the world and finished 6th at the Olympics – a relative success at the time.
Danny Kerry the tactical mastermind behind the performance was on his third Olympic cycle. He firmly believes that having the right culture and the right behaviours precedes peak performance.
However Danny Kerry was given some pretty brutal feedback post 2008 Beijing Olympics by the squad of players and management. In a nutshell he was a described as grumpy (polite version), data driven and not approachable. Kerry was hurt by the feedback but decided to be brave and smart. He took the feedback and committed to becoming a better coach.
Vital to him was improving his self-awareness. He has now developed a simple framework and checks his mind-set before any conversation.
He asks himself:
Where am I right now?
Where do I need to be?
Where is the person/people I am connecting with right now?
Where do they need to be?
How do we close these gaps?
To me this is mutually beneficial communication in each and every interaction.
Underpinning his coaching philosophy was creating an ‘optimal learning’ environment. One that serves to replicate real game situations and the emotional states that go with those challenges. This included deliberately making unfair umpire decisions against players, so they would be tested and had to keep their emotional 'hot' buttons in check. The goal was regardless of circumstance find a way to Win.
Kerry shared with BBC sport:
"Everyone puts a lot of time into the physiological effects of hockey, but what we've done in this Olympic cycle is put our players in an extremely fatigued state, and then ask them to think very hard at the same time,"
"We call that Thinking Thursday - forcing them to consistently make excellent decisions under that fatigue. We've done that every Thursday for a year."
Champions are indeed made on a Thursday morning…
How do you respond to feedback?
How do you create an environment to achieve your business and career goals?
Kerry has also moved away from relying on data as the primary route to high performance:
"We get carried away with some of the hard science around sport, but there's so much value in how you use characters and how you bring those qualities and traits to the fore. You see that on the pitch. Leverage on the human beings as much as the science."
How can you use both data and the character of your people to produce high performance in your organisation?
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