“Bouncing back from disappointing results earlier in the week, Jordyn Wieber and the rest of the “Fab Five” came back to win the Gold Medal a few nights ago night in the team gymnastics competition. I take that back. They didn’t come back to win, they dominated. It was as if they had something to prove—and they did it with a decisive 183.596 to 178.530 victory over the Silver Medal winning Russian team.
I have to admit, I felt kind of guilty rooting for the U.S. team as the Russians fell apart and cracked under the pressure of crunch time.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed as I watched the U.S. team interact, was that they looked as if they genuinely liked each other. I’ll admit, at first I don’t think I appreciated it, but over the course of the week, it didn’t seemed to matter if it was a routine that struggled or a huge success, there were lots of hugs, encouragement, and positive energy among the U.S. team and coaches.
Contrariwise, I didn’t get that vibe from the Russian team. After a disappointing performance and a brief word or two with their coach, a lonely gymnast would take a seat to deal with her disappointment alone. What’s more, watching the Russian gymnasts wait for a coming routine to begin, I didn’t see the concentration I saw in the U.S. teams eyes—what I saw looked more like fear or dread.
Over the course of the evening, the commentators on NBC made several references to the harsh words and tears they witnessed watching the Russian team workout. Coaches shouting at gymnasts and gymnasts shouting at coaches.
I’ve worked in environments like that. Nobody (and I say that all-inclusively because I don’t believer there is anybody), can perform at their best with a gun to their head. A confrontational leadership style obviously doesn’t work with gymnasts, and it doesn’t work with employees either.)
It would have been very easy for Jordyn Wieber to shut down and crumble after the disappointment early in the week. Her competitive spirit, great coaching, and a supportive team helped make it possible for Wieber to come back with a vengeance. Creating the right environment allows peak-performers like Wieber to consistently perform at their best.
We expect a lot out of our employees. I’m convinced that most of them, like the gymnasts I watched last night, want to perform at their best. When something goes wrong, which it eventually does, most people I know beat themselves up enough that harsh words from the boss don’t do much to improve performance—they make it worse. Creating the right environment does a lot to help people step up and perform at their best.
What do yo do to create an environment that encourages people to perform at their best?”
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