While reading the October issue of the Company Director, a topic of discussion was the contribution that elite athletes are making as directors. The article, A sporting chance, highlighted how the ‘fierce competitiveness and a commitment to excellence’ athletes possess supports their effective transition into director roles within companies.  

Jenn Morris OAM MAICD, former Australian Women’s Hockey Team, the Hockeyroos captain, recalled robust conversations had with their coach, Ric Charlesworth. Morris stated “he was brutally honest and he was brutally fair…feedback was given quickly, honestly, and for the betterment of the team, not for individuals.” It led me to consider how many leaders are putting off the hard conversations with their team? 

Feedback is an essential part of building any team. It provides individuals and collectives with insights that enable them to maximise their strengths and build on their weaknesses, which in turn makes them more effective in their role. In addition to a focus on the team as a whole, it is equally important to focus on the contribution of each individual to it. By allowing an individual's compromised performance to go unchecked, not surprisingly, it is reflective within the team result. 

If we think back to the three components identified by Morris when speaking of Charlesworth’s leadership; fair, quick and brutal. It’s important for leaders to be prepared to confront and provide the brutal facts, whenever they may be needed. By acting fast, you can eliminate the delayed impact an underperforming team or individual can have on your business. More importantly, for brutal feedback to be effective, it must always be fair and provided in a considered and constructive manner. 

Morris spoke to the idea of action over intention, “when people’s words are different to their actions it causes problems and breaks culture. It paralyses people’s contribution, because people aren’t sure what the game plan is and when it is going to change again.” Creating a culture of discipline will support your team in maintaining focus to achieve the collective goal and objectives for the business. 

If you’re not already having the tough chats with your team, be prepared to take those conversations on now.  

What we do know is that by developing our self leadership skills we lift our capacity to build our teams, build resilience and take advantage of the unknown.