Being a Leader Through Adversity: How Do You Lead a Losing Team?
It’s easy to lead when your team is winning. It’s fun to win! Isn’t that what we are all striving for?
Well, of course we want to win! And of course we want our people to achieve their goals. But the true test of Leadership is how well you inspire a losing team.
In this week’s Leadership Circle call, a call that I host for a group of Leaders that come together for one hour by teleconference each week, we took a deep dive into this topic. We all agreed that it is much easier to take the lead and keep a positive tempo going in our offices when our team is winning! And we also agreed that it takes patience, intention and a whole lot of grit to keep the team pumped up when the going gets tough.
That’s when our duty to Lead is the most important!
Anyone who has played sports can relate to this challenge, right? In fact, many great athletes say that losing is often a catalyst to winning! If you’ve ever seen a half-time locker room scene when the team is behind, the stakes are high and emotions are flaring, you see some critical elements of Leadership that are necessary to pick up the players and get them back on the field.
In my search for answers and a magic formula for inspiring a losing team, here’s a process that I think might help:
- Acknowledge what’s not working! Why avoid the elephant in the room? If something isn’t working for you, your team, or even one member of your team, get it out there! Call it the way you see it and identify where you are “stuck” so you can do something about it.
- Praise the team and players for their accomplishments. You can always find things that ARE working, and this is the perfect time to shine the light on the good stuff.
- Make adjustments as needed. Maybe you need to quit doing something. Maybe you have the right person in the wrong job. Maybe you need to add some talent to the team to get back on track. Have the courage to make the changes that need to be made.
- Remind the team about the comebacks that have happened in the past. It’s probably not the first time you or your team have had to deal with challenges, struggles or losses. How did you get “unstuck” in the past? Share your stories, inspire your team! Remind them that the game ain’t over yet and winning is still possible!
- Focus on your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (a good old fashioned SWOT analysis). You know what your challenges are and your know what your “sweet spot” is as a team – spend a little time to remind yourself of your wildly important goals and make sure they are in alignment with your talents so you can stay on track and succeed.
- Bring your team together (in a huddle!) to regain focus, energy and FUN to keep you moving forward as a team. You aren’t alone. Pull together and set intentions to win!
The Power of Loss
I read a great article this week on LinkedIn that was sent to me by a colleague, written by Peter Gruber, that reminds us all about the power that loss can have over us as we strive towards winning.
He quoted Michael Jordan, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and credited his attitude about failure as a critical driver behind his incredible success:
“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
If we shift our perspective, we might honor winning and losing equally as attributes for success. As the old saying goes, “It’s not how many times you fall that matters, it’s how many times you get back up.” Take these words of wisdom and plaster them on your forehead with foam letters; they might soften the next fall.
And those losses? Well, if you are paying attention, it might just mean you are one step closer to a really big win.
I can help you build leadership in your team.
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