Post by Tanya Goodwin-Maslach, contributing Women On Business writer
"The long run is what puts the tiger in the cat."
– Bill Squires
I’m in Boulder, Colorado on business and its cold. I don’t know how I lived in Colorado years ago – I think it was this cold when I lived here then, too. There are many redeeming qualities about the state; my personal fav’s are the skiing and the sunshine. The sun shines a good many days every year, I think it’s upwards of 300+ days. But shining and heat production are two very different things.
Yesterday, when I was inside, preparing for a run outside, that sun was a bit misleading. The moment I stepped out the door my face was whipped by the wind, and as I covered my nose with my gloved hand, I cursed at the sun’s tease. It’s 32 degrees. What the heck was I doing out here?
I made it through my long run, but there still was a swim session to get through later. Did I mention the pool was outdoors?
What does this have to do with business?
“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”
The sport of triathlon, running, or any sport for that matter, is very similar to leadership development – your potential for success lies in the preparation phases. The investment is heavy up front and in some areas, like mental preparation, extra focus and energy is required.
Whether it’s a financial, psychological or emotional investment, those businesses that do all three prosper and out-compete the competition. Those that fall back on easy excuses like “Our managers are so busy right now”, “We’re just tightening our belts, it’s too hard now”, or “We’re going to complete our focus groups then re-strategize” are just that – excuses. While they’re saying that, their competition is out preparing and DOING what needs to be done to succeed when it matters. The winning companies are led by people who realize the investments of time and resources in their people’s development are acts of serious preparation worth doing – and they do it with purpose, action and results-orientation.
None of this is to say they do so blindly and impulsively. They are executing on data that is relevant and timely. Data which, by the way, already exists in over-abundance in every organization, if you just know how to look for it. They are also not blind to the inherent risks of leadership development; making their own employees more marketable for jobs outside the company, employees not applying their new skill sets, the real potential for short-term losses (to realize long-term gains).
"Sport is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool. Sport as about adapting to the unexpected and being able to modify plans at the last minute. Sport, like all life, is about taking risks."
– Sir Roger Bannister
They move forward confidently with experts and coaches who they trust and they plan for ‘what if’s’ scenarios.
What they don’t do, is just go about it like they always have, or worse yet, do nothing – and wait. They don’t wait and tell themselves that it’ll all work out and if they just hunker down and don’t spend, their people will come through just fine. Because they know, when it matters, they’ll be faster than the guy who, like them, invested a lot of cash in a cool tool. But they’ll kick his butt cause you see, that guy had no coach, and without one, the engine that makes the tool work – well, doesn’t.
Onward and upward!