Chatting with a friend whose children had played water polo in high school, the conversation moved to coaches. We have both watched matches where the coach has shouted abuse at the players all match long. This seems to be very common in at least boy’s water polo. Surprisingly the teams often still do pretty well. And the boys are prepared to suck it up and accept it for the honour of playing for the team.
Both of my friend’s children are really strong players so they played first team pretty much throughout high school. The teams they played for were in the top rankings of SA schools’ teams. The difference is in how they get there and how they experience the sport. And in those years the girls’ team took home more big trophies than the boys’ team did.
My friend’s son is also an observer and a thinker. In previous years he’d watched his older sister and her team mates have a ball in and out of the pool – work hard and play hard. He saw how they knew each other, respected each other and played as a team. Their coach created an environment in which they could learn, grow, have fun and win.
He contrasted this with how his team were treated – shouted and sworn at, insulted and degraded, and he decided it was no longer worth it. He demoted himself to the second team and played his last school season for the sheer fun of it.
His sister on the other hand played for both school and province through to the end of matric. And then went on to play at university and to contribute as a coach at a local high school.
In our working world leader-managers create the environment and culture – from the top downwards. Many companies don’t really appreciate their staff. They consider them a rather costly and difficult resource. Communication isn’t great and systems and processes not all that enabling. But the work mostly does get done. So one might ask why things should be any different.
If the leader-managers create an environment of trust and respect, with great communication, a sense of belonging and systems that enable, then the work gets done better and easier. People respond to the environment with energy, show initiative, reduce wastage, care for customers and take responsibility for doing their job the very best that they can.
And more of the great players stay to be part of the team.
And the team has what it needs to win the bigger trophies.