Sunday, 11 January 2009


Performance = Potential – internal interference – external interference

…or so the management theory goes.

This one works well if you’re mind-gyming yourself, i.e. when you’re talking yourself through a challenging situation, such as working to a deadline or when you’re working through conflict.

Mental self-control is critical if you’re aiming to perform to a high standard. And when you train yourself, you begin to notice the external interference, e.g. the negativity of others or the unexpected meeting that puts you under more pressure.

You also learn to notice the internal interference, such as your own doubts, tiredness or stress. And that’s the very moment in which you need to draw on your strength to put that interference aside.

Listen, you’re good. You know you can get through whatever situation you’re facing. Left to get on with it, you’ll ace it.

Understanding interference is also helpful when your team fades on you occasionally.

Building on see > do > get, if you discipline yourself to see that each individual has high potential, you can end up wondering why they under perform sometimes – which, let’s be honest, no amount of positive thinking can conceal.

So what are you to do? Well, given that we’ve seen how coaching yourself through challenges can help, it is nearly as simple as applying it to the people you’re leading.

But only ‘nearly’ as simple. You’re not a rugby coach, and your team may react unfavourably to a pep talk. Rather, you can employ one of a range of techniques that help them to mind-gym themselves.

First, listen, and make sure you understand what’s interfering with their potential – is it internal or external? Chances are, it’s some internal interference, fuelled by external interference such as change, job insecurity or poor management in your organisation. Tell them how you see the situation, or how you dealt with something similar. In time, you can even talk them through the concept of the mind gym.

Finally, get involved and be seen to be working as hard they are, conveying a drive towards a common purpose, and leading your whole team towards high performance and strong motivation.

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