The 1980 USA Olympic hockey team’s victory is one that goes down in Olympic lore as one of the biggest upsets in sports history. The undefeated hockey giant of the Soviet Union was the predicted winner. From early ages, the young Russian boys showing promise, were selected and sent from their families to be trained together. This bred a team that lived and breathed, not only hockey, but every move and habit of their team mates.
On the other hand, the USA team consisted of only amateur players – almost all of them playing for teams that played against each other. Herb Brooks was the mastermind behind the US team’s victory over the Russians. Allow me to recall a scene from Disney’s version of the “Miracle on Ice”.
After yet another pre-season defeat due to competing personalities and team rivalries within the team, Coach Brooks required suicide laps up and down the ice, occasionally asking players which team they played for. Each of them answered the name of their home university. No one realizing the point of the exercise was to get them to realize that their team was the United States and that trumped all other identities. In order to win, Brooks knew that they needed to know not only who they were, but what was expected of them and why.
As you probably know, this tactic, among others, was successful and they went on to win the Olympic gold medal over the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
I tell this story in connection to last week’s challenge of knowing the origins of the expectations you hold for your team members. If you did the exercise, you probably realized that a few might be unfair, a few might be spot on, and a few could use some reworking.
So this week I want you to take the following challenge:
Evaluate each one of your team members, and ask yourself, “do they know what’s expected of them, and have I told them the why behind it.”
The latter part of this challenge is equal to the first. Your employees may know the what, but do they know the why?
For the most part, people want to keep their jobs and want to feel satisfied in their jobs! We feel satisfied when we feel like we did a good job. The US Olympic team came together when they knew who they needed to be and why. You, as a leader, set the standard for what each person’s best job looks like. If they don’t know that what or why, that is on you. The responsibility of inspiring and explaining is yours. In the process of explaining the what and why of their position, it doesn’t hurt to listen to what they think the what and why behind their position is. Solely imposing your views on their’s isn’t sustainable. Understanding their’s and complementing it with your’s is where explosive growth happens.
Good luck this week!