Vince Lombardi, the head coach of the Green Bay Packers American Football team, was a tough man who liked to repeat fellow coach Red Sanders’ quote that, ‘Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing’. Lombardi was renowned for being one of the greatest and toughest coaches in the industry and in the 1960s led his team to three straight NFL Championships. He has also been quoted as saying,
I don’t necessarily have to like my players and associates but as their leader I must love them. Love is loyalty, love is teamwork, love respects the dignity of the individual. This is the strength of any organization.
Creating this type of love in our teams and organisations enables our people to please and delight us, as well as disappoint and let us down in the same way our children might. It creates acceptance for the way people are, in a non-judgemental environment. Love in teams is about having a connection with people, developing respect and trust between each other and being able to forgive when needed.
As humans, we need to connect as much as we need food, water and shelter. Indeed, in Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, UCLA Professor Matthew Lieberman says our need to connect has been in our DNA for centuries and the reason we build tribes, families and communities. This connection makes us feel part of something bigger than just our self and it makes us feel wanted and included. One way to build connection is through sharing experiences.
Over the last few months with the impact of Covid-19 on how we live and work we have shared many experiences such as leading organisations from our dining room table through to checking school work for our children while running a team meeting. Accompanied with a range of emotions such as vulnerability, fear and confusion, we are connecting with each other more through these shared experiences.
At the heart of great personal and professional relationships is trust. When you have relationships based on trust you are more likely to do more, be more and get more in return. In his article ‘How to Build Trust in an Organization’ Chris Hitch Ph.D. Program Director of UNC Executive Development says: “Trust is earned through action and interaction. Action gives people evidence while interaction shows openness to others’ needs and ideas.”
Jacinda Adern, Prime Minister of New Zealand is a living example of building trust through her action and interaction. She has shown through her responses to the Christchurch terror attack in 2019 and the Covid-19 crisis that maintaining clear and consistent communication with empathy and compassion has seen her voted one of the most trusted politicians in the world (Roy Morgan, 2020).
In a 2015 Harvard Business Review study of 84 US companies focusing on the level of compassion and forgiveness held by the CEO, researchers found companies with a CEO who had higher levels of these characteristics outperformed their peers by almost 500 per cent. Yet everywhere we look blame seems to be apportioned.
When Daniel Andrews announced to the press Melbourne CBD and the Mitchell Shire would go into Stage 3 lockdown as a result of an increase in Covid-19 cases the press asked if he were planning to apologise to the people of Victoria. When things go wrong we look for blame first with compassion and forgiveness nowhere in sight. As a society we seem to have lost our ability to forgive, yet a number of great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King have championed this characteristic.
Love truly is a wonderful thing and can play a significant role when leading teams. Through connection, trust and a culture of forgiveness you can create a productive, engaged and winning team. All you really need.
Commentary by Wendy Born. Here’s what you’ve missed?
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