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Rising strong after setbacks

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How good is your bounce back ability? This could be a key trait of a good leader.

All about mindset

Life is a rich tapestry of ups and downs. Riding the waves of success is all very well but the test of character comes with how you manage obstacles to success. Without doubt, the key issue here is mindset. Some of it is semantics too – a significant shift in perspective comes when you view obstacles as challenges and this comes from a determination to relish the challenge and figure out how to overcome it.

It’s a well-worn adage but ‘no man is an island’ and it’s really important to draw on the strengths of your team and be open to their viewpoints - even if they don’t align with your own. It’s also about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, because outside of this zone is where the magic happens. Perspective is also vital. If you focus solely on the obstacle it can become a Herculean task to see beyond it – so see it for what it is and ensure it doesn’t dominate your thinking.

Dig deep

One of the biggest misconceptions is that talent alone will earn you success. This is a fallacy. Hard work comes before talent and it’s a lifelong commitment. Tenacity, grit and determination are absolutely critical to sustained high performance. Also, be aware of your thoughts - all the emotions you experience are triggered by thoughts so pay more attention to your mind chatter and be mindful of when it becomes critical and negative.

Create a ‘bank account’ of memories of success – by drawing on things you’ve done well before, you are in a better position to manage difficult situations. You only have to look at the Welsh team performance at Euro 2016 to see the power of mindset, with manager Chris Coleman talked openly in press interviews about handling fear of failure. The reality is that failure’s not your friend, but he’s not your enemy either! Fear of failure actually stops people achieving their potential, which is totally counter productive.

As a team game, football is so relevant to business life because it draws on the power of working together as one. In difficult times it’s essential you thrive off the energy of your team to get ‘back in the game’ so surround yourself with inspiring people who can keep you on track.

Relish the challenge

Winners, by definition, are people who love overcoming challenges – it’s the key component of a winning mindset. Outstanding leaders have consistent qualities across the board:

  • They accept responsibility and they don’t promote blame cultures.
  • They manage pressure well and keep a cool head when the heat is on.
  • They take calculated risks – they’re not cavalier in their approach but they never remain in the perceived ‘safety’ of their comfort zones.
  • They are persistent. It’s a simple mantra: Never. Give. Up.
  • They have a single-mindedness to achieve. They are focused and not easily distracted.

These qualities in a leader are translated into action and the influence is contagious. Leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders. By acting in this way, strong leaders:

  • Remove the fear of failure in themselves and their team and use the energy and drive of others to create inspiration
  • Maintain a stellar team culture as no egos are dominating. In his work ‘The Winner Within – A Life Plan for Team Players’ Pat Riley talks about the ‘disease of me’ where greed and selfishness arise, thus creating petty rivalries and factions
  • Ensure a healthy decision-making process as there is no blame culture so it encourages a positive environment that celebrates innovative thinking
  • Constantly keep expectations in check and re-evaluate them as the situation changes
  • Are true to themselves. The best leaders are authentic and lead with their heads and their hearts


Peter Lowe

By Peter Lowe

Peter is the former head of development at Manchester City FC, and is the founder of First Team Ltd.

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