My thoughts on coaching and the business context – part 2

With everyone settling into their training well, and a 5k personal best for one of our runners in a recent time trial, some final observations I’m keen to share.

Mental strength – I came across this interesting article in Forbes which provides a good summary of how mental toughness benefits athletes, but can also be of benefit in business. The author, Christine M. Riordan is the Dean and a Professor of Management at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. She highlights six areas and gives some great examples:

  • Flexibility
  • Responsiveness
  • Strength
  • Courage and ethics
  • Resilience
  • Sportsmanship.

These were all inherent within the group as they undertook a journey into the unknown…but clearly we can all relate how each applies to a project we’ve worked on or led – and how much harder it is to be successful if any are missing.

Health and well-being – Running isn’t just a sport, for many it is a lifestyle choice. So many of our runners expressed an increasing feeling of health, fitness and well-being throughout the programme and into their lives. Their mental health improved with greater concentration and happiness at succeeding their goals. Their stories are inspirational.

You need only visit the UK Government website to find extensive research on the benefits working brings to people. There is also much evidence, both UK and internationally of the positive impacts Well-being has on people, work and society. And this research demonstrates how sport and culture have a positive impact on people’s happiness and well-being. This piece in The Telegraph explores how companies who embrace and support well-being improves productivity. Running and fitness are and can be a key contributor to this. And this piece in HR Magazine also provides compelling evidence. Employers who embrace well-being in all its forms (including sport and fitness) will have healthier, happier and more productive employees.

Community – The beginner’s group have made much comment about how they have felt so welcome into the running community. Anyone who has studied marketing and business will be familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The stages are described as follows;

  • Physiological – the basics of life like food, water, air
  • Safety – security of you, your family and friends and your things
  • Belonging – those things such as love, friendship, camaraderie and community which make you feel part of a greater good
  • Esteem – this is where other’s perceptions of you and your perception of yourself become important and their approval / respect for you develops
  • Self-actualisation – this is where the building blocks from the previous stages allow you to be free of mind, body and spirit to excel.

The theory states that without the basics of life, you cannot move up the pyramid – so physiological needs need to be met before you can move to safety, then to belonging – all the way to achieving self-actualisation. All of our runners went through these stages – and they are currently in the ‘esteem’ category as they develop as runners, and gel with the group and fellow runners. Community for them is crucial for them to improve, as is positive feedback and encouragement they get from more experienced runners.

There is an interesting article in Women on Business on how this applies to the workplace and achieving goals in a small business. The guiding principles hold true for large organisations, employees and athletes too!

Enthusiasm – “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” This is a great quote from Vince Lombardi – an American Football player, coach and executive. 

As we all know, enthusiastic people are great to work with and for, and it’s infectious. This article from the Institute of Supply Management identifies 4 elements of effective leadership – Vision, Enthusiasm, Motivation and Courage. It talks about behaviours which demonstrate enthusiasm. These include a sense of urgency, excitement in your voice, body language, increased gesturing and an upbeat attitude and tempo.

In the workplace we all respond to these characteristics and gravitate towards those leaders who excite, inspire and enthuse us. Their passion and drive give us confidence, encourage participation, energise us and make us want to be part of the ‘feel good’ factor it generates. The athletes in our ‘Couch to 5k’ course all responded to these factors too, and as their confidence grew, demonstrated them too in their interaction with the coaches, helpers and their fellow runners!

Conclusion – I hope this series of blogs have been interesting. I have had lots of really positive comments from runners, ex-colleagues and the beginner’s themselves. It has been great writing them and reflecting on my career to date, but also my coaching career and the many inspiration and talented people I have worked with and run with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *