I recently completed a personality assessment, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I finally understand why I am always running just a little bit late, why I can be both the loudest and quietest person in the room, and why I have such a hard time making decisions.
It also told me a little about how I respond to pressure;
“You have a fairly volatile style tending to react to events which occur on an emotional rather than rational level."
But no one is facing as much pressure at this very moment as England’s 2018 World Cup team. For the first time since 1990, we’ve reached the semi-finals of the biggest tournament in football.
I came across this article from The Guardian, about the work that Pippa Grange, the team psychologist, has been doing behind the scenes to prepare the boys for the tournament.
Grange was appointed as head of people and team development in November 2017 and given the job of building resilience while confronting the pressures faced by previous England squads.
Although Gareth Southgate has been given much of the credit (and quite rightly!) for England’s success so far, the psychological transformation of the team has taken them much further than anyone may have expected at the start of the tournament. And let’s be honest, #GarethSouthgateWould certainly be the first to praise Grange’s work.
The article got me thinking about how we can apply Grange’s approach to a work context.
Part of Grange’s reported strategy was to get the players to sit down together in small groups to share their life experiences and anxieties in a bid to build trust and understand each other. In a work context, this means giving colleagues opportunities to get to know each other on a deeper level.
Here at Equinet, we hold weekly meetings with the whole team, where we begin by each sharing a personal highlight of the last seven days. By knowing the little things about each other’s daily lives and the things that are most important to us, we build stronger relationships that enable us to work more closely together.
Southgate’s strategy was to convince the team there was nothing to fear from playing in the World Cup, and to “change the mindset from one of fear to one of adventure”, particularly when it comes to penalties. If we think about this in a work context, it’s a little reminder not to be fearful of the unknown, to see new experiences as opportunities, and to take on new challenges when they are presented to you.
But be careful, as it’s not just about thinking positively. According to sports performance consultant Andy Barton, we shouldn’t visualise the end result (e.g. lifting the World Cup), but rather, we should visualise how we need to perform to get there. So when you’ve got that big presentation coming up, visualise how you’ll successfully deliver it, rather than focusing on the relief you expect to feel afterwards.
The most important insight I’ve taken from Grange’s approach is how it pays to understand ourselves and those we work with. Personality assessments, like the one I completed not so long ago, are a great way to help us build self-awareness. And if everyone in a company completes one, we can understand how our colleagues are similar or different to us, and what this means for how we can best work together to deliver against business goals.
I’ll leave you with this...
England players seem happier and more grounded – and much of the credit goes to psychologist Pippa Grange. What can the team’s approach teach us all about facing fear and failure? • Don’t fear failure. “Part of what it takes to be courageous is overcoming the constant battle between the desire for what we want and the fear of failure. Most of us don’t expose ourselves because we are fearful,” writes Grange. • Reframe emotions: you’re not “nervous”, you’re “excited”; a penalty shootout/job interview/important speech is not something to dread, it’s an “opportunity”. • Positive thinking is unhelpful if you’re simply fantasising about achieving an Oscar/the World Cup/a fuller social life. Instead, focus – positively – on the steps that could get you to your goal. • Treat your employees/children/customers as individuals rather than a homogenous group. Different approaches will work for different people. • Kindness, listening and empathy will take you further than barking orders. Use praise to motivate people.