The crowd went wild.
I nearly spilled my drink and looked around startled.
I was in Fise World Series action sports festival at Montpellier, France. One of the professional skateboarders had just tried a crazy trick, lost his balance and felt flat on the ground.
Amazing! No one’s ever done that before!
Skateboarder saluted the audience, got back on the board and tried doing it again.
He smashed it.
An inspiration for any leader out there
That moment was an eye opener for me: Never had I EVER heard people applauding more for the one who failed than the ones who didn’t!
I suddenly noticed that unlike in certain team sports like football or ice hockey, no one at the festival hated the other team or athlete. No one was booing, mocked anyone or said negative comments, except for “it being too sunny” which for someone living in London is actually positive 😉
There were no teams, no nations – just talent.
I couldn’t help comparing it with the corporate life. With the world around us already full of negativity, why do we keep kicking ourselves in the foot?
What leaders must learn from action sports:
1.Instead of just applauding the person taking the safe route, cheer for the person who had guts to try something new
We are told that we need to celebrate the fail-safe culture, but in reality teams and individuals taking risks and failing are still frowned upon. This is why most of the people take the safe route and do things as they’ve always been done.
Yet in the changing world this can result fatal for companies as it strengthens status-quo and makes it almost impossible for the company to keep up with the disruptors.
Next time you see someone in your company falling flat on their face after pushing the envelope, congratulate them openly. They might have failed, yes, but at least they tried to do something much more interesting than the usual trick.
2. Instead of encouraging competition / war between departments “to boost the results”, focus more on collaboration to improve results for both
While I was watching the BMX professionals competing to get a spot in the Olympics, my new friend told me that most of them helped each other, were friends and were even training together. Some were over 40, some were only 16.
If one of them was struggling to get an especially tough trick right, others gathered around him and helped him to achieve it.
How often do you see this happening in the corporate world? Exactly. There are conflicts between generations, sales and marketing, HQ and regions … but this is hindering the performance of both parties.
We are not enemies, whatever we’ve heard in the past.
By doing reverse mentoring, youngsters learn from experience and silver foxes on the other hand learn digital and how millennials and gen Z think. By collaborating together, marketing learns more insights about the customer and sales gets more relevant material to boost results.
Win / Win.
3. Instead of getting tangled up in law suits and pettiness, focus on the bigger cause.
But why on earth were the athletes helping a competitor to succeed if their personal dream is to be in the Olympics?
They have a bigger purpose than one competition: Sport they’re passionate about. They did it to improve the sport, give an unforgettable experience for the audience, and push the limits what’s possible to inspire more people to take on the sport they love.
“But you need the conflict between teams and competitors to have passionate fans”, I hear you say. “It’s the drama between Real Madrid and Barcelona or Apple and Google that sells headlines and gets them engaged”
Really? Are action sports fans any less passionate about their sport and athletes?
Look beyond the old marketing and publicity tactics of using conflict and negativity against the competitor to position your company on the market. I don’t mean becoming bland in your communications: if you try to speak with everyone, you speak with no one.
There’s a better way of doing this.
Search for a bigger purpose that will move your employees and audience. Look beyond the product you’re selling and industry your operating.
What is the purpose of your company? What is a problem close to your employees’ and customers’ heart?
Imagine if the world’s biggest talent forgot the politics and came together to solve the largest problems affecting the world – without there having to be a meteorite about to crash the Earth like in the movies.
Join a consortium and use your knowledge together to make the world a better place
No teams, no nations – just talent.
If you’re passionate about your topic, you’ll create passionate fans.
Ready to make an impact as a leader?
But I’m just one person – how am I supposed to change the whole company? That’s the funny thing about change: the only way to change the company is by changing the individuals.
Start from small steps and let your actions to spread the good will:
- How can you encourage and support people around you trying something new?
- Look at the other teams or divisions: who could you collaborate with today?
- What cause or consortium could you join or support e.g. Tech for good, women in tech, sustainability…?
Now think of ONE simple thing for each you could do in the next 24-48 hours. Is it giving a positive comment to someone? Is it reaching out to other department with an email? Is it searching for groups or consortiums on LinkedIn you could join?
Now go and do it. Let’s make the world more positive place.
I know you can x
Ps. If you found this helpful in anyway, please do like this or share your thoughts in comments Would really appreciate it!