What a year for the Chicago Cubs!
What a great World Series! Down 3-1, the Cubs won one at home then went on the road to win the final two games.
Manager Joe Maddon had a mantra during the year that leaders might want to consider, “Don’t let the pressure exceed the pleasure.”
The batters in baseball, especially when they’re in a slump, can really squeeze that bat and tense up. The pitchers can try so hard to throw strikes that they start to aim the ball instead of throwing it. The pressure leads to frustration and the players cannot relax and get into a flow where they just let it happen. Maddon’s emphasis on pleasure along with his example of staying loose may very well have allowed the players to relax and just let it happen.
I don’t know if anyone has the correct answer to getting into the flow, but I do believe if the pressure leads to your being stressed all the time, you will never get into the flow.
I pitched in college and in semi-pro baseball. I definitely remember trying so hard to throw my fastball that it must have looked like a basketball when it got to the hitters. I can also remember nights when I was in a flow and relaxed and had good velocity.
Leaders have to be tough and demanding if they want to get results. They have to critique those who report to them. How can leaders critique the work of their team and still have them keep a positive attitude? Four thoughts that may keep the team enjoying the pleasure of their work as opposed to giving into the pressure of the work:
In their outstanding book, The One Minute Manager, authors Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson stress that when critiquing, the leader wants to develop the habit of critiquing the action, not the person. Constantly criticizing the person leads to stress and pressure. Criticism of the action is appreciated by the worker and can lead to his taking pleasure in the improvement of the quality of his work.
In his book, Instant Replay, about one of the championships of the Green Bay Packer teams, author Jerry Kramer states that Coach Vince Lombardi was relentless in his striving for excellence in practice. One of his favorite sayings was, “Chase perfection and you might catch excellence.” Although Lombardi definitely could be harsh in his criticism, Kramer states that it was not uncommon for the coach to to critique the performance of a player during practice and, after practice, put his arm around the player and tell him one day he was going to be a great player in the NFL. He critiqued but then he added praise.
Morgan Wooten, one of the best high school basketball coaches in the country, believed in the “Sandwich Theory.” This theory advocates praise, critique, praise. You are getting your point across to your team member but you are affirming the player’s value through the praise.
Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal, in their book, Leading with Soul, emphasize the importance of celebrations. When a goal is reached, most especially a challenging goal, get your team together and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your people have worked hard to accomplish this goal and their work should be acknowledged and celebrated.
Please consider the four above thoughts in your leadership roles as they may help your organization to not let the pressure exceed the pleasure. It surely worked for Joe Maddon!