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As England Manager Roy Hodgson prepares his team for their opening match against Italy this Saturday, a nation wonders what he can possibly say that will inspire the team to glory. It’s a problem that all leaders face – how to coach their people to create a team that are unified in their focus and pursuit of success.
Years of disappointment have left England fans “expecting the worst” and let’s face it, we don’t have the best team. But, in sport, as in business, the team with the best players aren’t always the winners – it takes more than just skill, as Hodgson recognises. At a recent dinner, he spoke of the fact that he believes, with a few exceptions, most top players are essentially the same. Winners, he suggested, are set apart by two things. The first being those occasional displays of exceptional skill, that Hodgson professes are natural and cannot be coached. The second, however, coaching methods can have a significant impact on: a winning mentality. In fact, Hodgson has employed the services of sports psychiatrist Steve Peters to work with the team specifically on removing negative mindset and unlocking that winning mindset.
For leaders, creating a winning mindset in your team can be the difference between success and failure. To be successful in business, we must find ways in which we can set ourselves apart from our competition. Where our products/services and margins leave us little room to do this, we turn to other sources; perhaps we might offer better product support or customer service. But a winning mindset means you can differentiate yourself, even when your product or service is not the best or cheapest out there because a team who have a winning mindset want to win. They fight hard, persevere, get straight back up after a knock-back and they learn from their mistakes. To extend our football analogy, they’re ‘on the ball’, they don’t miss opportunities, are highly innovative and adaptive and never give up at the first hurdle. When competitors make mistakes, get complacent and leave gaps, the team with the winning mindset are already there, waiting to take full advantage and whilst there are other factors that contribute to success, a winning mindset impacts positively on these too by reinforcing a culture that promotes self-improvement and personal development. It is this unrelenting drive and ambition that is the fuel of success.
Whether Hodgson’s coaching methods will lead England to victory, I don’t know. They’ll be up against teams who will also have adopted that same winning mindset (in the world of international football, it’s no great secret the impact mindset can have on success). But in business, the playing field is not as even, a team with a winning mindset has a significant advantage over their competitors and let’s face it, the alternative certainly won’t bring you the success you require.
For more on creating a winning mindset, take a look at Carol S. Dweck’s book Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential, available from our Amazon astore, or read our blog post Does playing sport competitively make you more successful in business?