Are you on form?

It has always interested us that there seems to be a strong connection between management and leadership in sport and the service sector. This seems particularly relevant when it comes to performance management. It is apparent that there is a good deal that can be learned from sport — particularly in the area of creating and maintaining a world-class level of achievement.

There seems in the service industry to be a focus on training and development compared to the sporting sector, where players continually challenge what exists and are always being coached and motivated to achieve new heights. They also train every single day. As a result of doing so they delight the audience, their customers.

Sports managers, leaders of the teams and individuals, seem to spend the majority of time with the players rather than in the background, and they take a hands-on approach as trainers, coaches and mentors. They manage by walking around and are always present at the important touch and tipping points.

Speaking of being world class, it does not get any bigger in cricket, a bat-and-ball game simpler in comparison to baseball, than the Ashes. Sadly, England suffered a humiliating defeat this time around. In commenting on this performance the recent words of one of England’s greatest past Test cricketers, Sir Ian Botham, were interesting. Sir Ian commented on the basis that the issues in terms of England’s recent disappointing performance were to be found in the changing room. He went on to say that it was fixable for the future and was all about attitude, mindset and having a game plan. How similar is that to the service industry, which is all about having a positive approach, the correct behavior and a strategy to satisfy customer needs?

More expert commentary from various sources went on to blame the defeat of England in the Ashes on key players not being on form. We interpret that as team players understanding the what and how, but for some reason, simply not being able to make it happen. How familiar is that?

The key does seem to lie with constant practice and correcting faults and imbalances to the extent that being on form is simply a matter of perfecting your craft. This is so essential in delivering world-class service.

Aristotle seemed on the mark when he commented, “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

How is your form?