On decision making, Plan B and half-time team talks

October 27, 2015

Sam DavisNotes on a rugby match, half-time motivational talks, and executing a change from a Plan A to a Plan B

The match features The Ospreys of Wales playing Connaught of Ireland. The game is as important as any league clash, but hardly one in which the result is career-changing.

 

Ospreys have the more glamorous internationals and reputation. Connaught have more local players, although they are catching up on the other Irish regional teams. Home advantage to Ospreys. Connaught are on a good winning streak and Ospreys are recovering from the donation of key players to Wales for the World Cup. Ospreys expect a tough match but as home team are favourites. Their home record against Connaught is very good.

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Bunter Cakes for Bunter Paws

October 23, 2015

Billy BunterBully Bunter was not a particularly popular chap. He didn’t have many chums. But he often got his own way because he was the biggest boy in his form at Graylings School. He could get particularly angry if he thought anyone else was trying to get more than their fair share of cake

Most of the boys thought this was greedy because he was so strong he always got the biggest share of any cakes arriving at School anyway.

One day some of the boys tried to change the rules for a fairer share of cakes. Bully Bunter was outraged. What you call fair isn’t fair, he cried. You are trying to get a share of cake which doesn’t belong to you. That’s not right. Any cake that is mine I don’t intend to share with you rotters. I have been too generous with you all already.

His school mates were not happy. That was the start of a big split in The Remove as even the few friends he had like Johnny Bull began to turn against him.

Let them jolly well eat their own cakes, Bully Bunter said to himself, licking a crumb from his lips. It’s Bunter Cakes for Bunter Paws in future.


I dreamed I couldn’t see the future and like Caliban I cried

October 21, 2015

CalibanIt’s Back To The Future day. I remembered how in The Tempest Caliban dreams sweet dreams and cries piteously on waking up

I did have a dream last night. It was soon after a discussion on BTTF on Newsnight with the wonderful Peter Snow. In my dream I was defending an assertion that there was no way of seeing the future. I was in a lecture room among mostly friendly academics. That bit of the dream is possible if relatively rare.

How can you say that? I was asked. It goes against all your writings on creativity. Still in my dream, I produced a yellowing diagram. It was a flow chart showing how creative ideas can be produced systematically. It seemed close to something I might have written about in the 1980s. I struggled to explain it, to defend the claim I had made by reference to it.

I woke up more than a little disturbed. It was then I remembered Caliban’s speech. Shakespeare has given the monster a beautiful exposition of human aspirations.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

Ho Hum.

Happy BTTF day.


What is Twitter’s New Business Model?

October 19, 2015

Major changes are announced by Twitter. The company is cutting back on staff and reorganizing its leadership. But will it find a new Business Model?

One of persistent questions in the business press has been ‘what is Twitter’s business model?’ The company has grown sensationally but always on its potential to make money rather than short-term profit. In that respect it is similar to Amazon. LWD subscribers will find several posts on this topic.

Turnover of senior executives

Over the last few months there has been a rapid turnover of senior executives at Twitter. Its head Dick Costelo departed in July when a Board reshuffle saw its brilliant entrepreneurial co-founder Jack Dorsey return in a transition role as CEO.

This resulted in a sideways move for a Twitter insider Adam Bain, who was considered a candidate to take over from Mr Dorsey who was seen as more of an ideas man with great inspirational and motivational skills.

Then earlier this month, [5 October 2015] Dorsey’s interim position was reclassified as a permanent one as CEO. This left unresolved a possible clash of interests with his involvement with Square, a fast growing mobile payments company in which he still retains executive responsibilities. As the new CEO, Mr Dorsey acted swiftly and announced major staff reductions at Twitter in a major restructuring plan.

Here comes Omid

One week after his appointment, Mr Dorsey also announced the arrival of Mr Omid Kordestani, an influential figure at Google whose reinvention of its corporate self as Alphabet may have contributed to Kordestani’s move to new challenges at Twitter.

Outsiders considered that further moves are required to give the company stability and coherent leadership. The official role of Mr Kordestani is as executive chairman. It remains to be seen how the leadership roles at Twitter will play out, and how the Company will redefine its business model.


Why I am still interested in charismatic leadership

October 16, 2015

NietzseThe pendulum of fashion is swinging against the charismatic leader.  But it is too early to dismiss the style and claim that we are now in a post-charismatic era

It would take another Nietzsche to stand wild-eyed in the market place and declare The Charismatic Leader is Dead.  I may be wild-eyed from time to time, but I’m no Nietzsche.

What seems to be happening is a growing appreciation of the downside of the charismatic style in business, politics, sport and other fields of human endeavor. We continue to be fascinated by Special Ones, and not disinterested at their falling from grace.

In the last few days, further stories are have been reported about the charismatics Jose Mourinho and Camila Batmanghelidjh.

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Denis Healey: ‘The best leader Labour never had?’

October 14, 2015

A Reflective Obituary

Denis Healey (30 November 1917 – 3 October 2015) has been widely described as ‘The best leader Labour never had.’ What might lie behind such claims?

This week [October 2015] the deaths were announced of two influential political figures, Denis Healey and Geoffrey Howe. Although from opposing political parties they will be linked in the history of the late 20th century. I will take a brief look at the attempts made by Denis Healey to become leader of his party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and claims that he was ‘The best leader Labour never had’.

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Has Mourinho lost the charisma battle to Jürgen Klopp?

October 11, 2015
 Jurgen Klopp
Klopp arrives as Liverpool FC’s new manager. At his first press conference he shows that his reputation as a charismatic is fully justified.  He even offers a gentle but provocative joke against Jose Mourinho, the  Premier League’s charismatic in residence

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Tensionitis and Performance Anxiety

October 9, 2015

Eva AsderakiThe recently completed US Tennis Open provides excellent examples of the tensions and anxiety that reduce performance. We look at the stories and what the top players do to overcome the problems of ‘tensionitis’, and suggest relevance to business leaders.

Let’s start with the stories that emerged as the tournament unfolded, before looking at the  tensions which might have been important as factors in their outcomes.

First, there was talent and courage of the players which gave so many moments of high drama.

The Serena slam story did not have the intended fairy-tale ending. Instead it had a quirky, unexpected and delightful conclusion.

The clash of the titans when Novak and Roger met was as heroic as might have been expected.

The Big Serving Guys (BSGs)

The Big Serving Guys (BSGs) such as Eisner and Anderson did a lot of damage in earlier rounds, putting out seeded players including Kai Nishikori and Andy Murray.   But the BSGs all eventually stumbled out to the very top players.

In this respect I wanted to reserve the classification of BSGs for very tall players using their greater height to produce unreturnable serves. (‘unreturnable serfs’ as my predictive text put it, sounding slightly Scandinavian). Federer had a great serve which wrought havoc. But he fits into the rare category of a more normal-sized player with an exceptional serve.

The conclusion reached is  that BSGs have developed a style of play which gives then advantages over the games in a set until a tie break is reached. In tie breaks the advantages are balanced out by their inexperience in the pressures of having to avoid dropping any point, particularly against top players who have been learning about the serving patterns of the BSG. This means BSGs win slam events more rarely than might be expected.

Tensions and performance anxieties

When we look more carefully, we find examples of how tensions influenced performance in numerous matches starting from day one to the finals of the last two days. No player was completely immune. Even Serena had been showing unusual signs of fragility under the great pressures of closing out the Serena slam.

The great struggle between Federer and Djokovic in the final  again showed that even the greatest players have to deal with nerves as critical points approached. In that final, both the players mostly showed astonishing skills at what has been called Thinking Clearly Under Pressure (‘TEA CUP’). But  clarity of thought is always fighting against more emotional processes. Put another way, as the sports psychologist Jim Peters puts it, we all have our inner chimp to control.

Some points for reflection

Point 1.   However Godlike we treat them,  even the greatest players have to deal with the tensions of the moment. They may just have exceptional control over them rather than being controlled by them.

Johanna Konta and Simona Halep each could be taken as an example of a player who overcome performance anxiety. In the past, each of these of these young players had suffered from serious problems of inconsistency which were holding back their potential. Joanna chose to work with a ‘mind coach’ who specialized in reducing anxiety pressures of financial managers. Her story became more widely noticed as she beat several top twenty plates as she built up a winning streak of eighteen winning matches. Simona’s story is even more remarkable. She turned to a new coach partly to develop her serve into a powerful weapon. She also confessed she needed help as she had lost all confidence under pressure. Under her new coach, Simona moved up to World No 2.

Point 2. Performance anxiety is deep-rooted but can be controlled. The player may find it easier with a new mental approach introduced by a new coach.

John Isner had won 108 service games without one loss in this year’s and part of last year’s US Open. But when Federer took him to a tie break and unleashed another service winner of his own, Isner abruptly hit the wall and could not make a first serve. Performance Anxiety or the dreaded ‘Yips’ had taken over his play.

Point 3. When a playing strength which has brought success is not working successfully, the tensions mount. An automatic pilot action is interrupted and the player starts thinking, so ‘staying in the zone’ becomes increasingly difficult.

During the tournament, several players found ways of reducing tension often involving self-harm. Murray is well known for smacking himself in anger. Interestingly, having now dispensed with her mind-calming coach, has reverted to self-abuse slapping her sole vigorously. Kyrgios sulks, pretends to give, and calculates fines for racquet abuse. Coco V destroyed a racquet with such enthusiasm, that a U Tube of the violence went viral

Point 4 Violent physical action is a widely-found mechanism for tension release. There may be diminishing returns on such approaches though the effect known as habituation. The press is essentially defined as a decline in response for a specific applied stimulus.

Rafa Nadal is a case study of tensions nearly overwhelming a great athlete. The symptoms are easier to identify than to remedy. After a period of near invincibility on clay courts, Rafa sustained serious injuries and time out. On returning to tournament play he was clearly no longer invincible. While this period of recovery was to be expected, but other players realised they had a chance to beat him. His loss on the clay courts of The French Open helped as the French say to ‘encourager les autres’

Nadal had slumped to No 8 in the rankings in the US Open before losing to the unpredictable Italian Fognini. At the press conference he showed his awareness that he had to his mind overcome his nerves even if he had lost the match

I fighted until the last point all the time, good attitude. Not enough to win today. I lost a couple matches this year like this. But the good thing is my mind allows me to fight until the end as I did during all my career. Sometimes this year I was not able to do that. So I am happy with that. I enjoyed the crowd. Was amazing support out there. Just very special feeling be out there with that support. I enjoyed that. I tried to fight until the last ball. I believe I did, but was not enough today.

Point 5 Rafa knew he had to overcome mental as well as physical problems in returning to the top table of the game. He seems to draw comfort that although he lost, he lost not because of nerves. However, this may not of itself be enough to deal with the problem. He has to date remained loyal to his ‘Uncle Tony and coaching staff. Maybe he will have to take the tough decision that Halep, Murray and others took to make progress.

Discussion welcomed

Discussion is welcomed on the issues raised in this post.

 

 


The Charismatic League Tables for October 2015

October 6, 2015

Alexis TsiprasThis month, media attention turned to new entrants Nigel Farage, Andrew Castle, Arsene Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson and Tony Pidgley. But the award of charismatic leader of the month went to the re-elected Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras

The results were based on news stories studied in September 2015

Prime Minister Tsipras received the award for the manner of his re-election and his skill at maintaining his credibility over a period in which he went from leader of the opposition to austerity measures to the  leader in charge of enacting them. Technically he was elected leader of his party and then leader of the Government in a coalition.

Stories were also found which resulted in a reappraisal of the positions of politicians David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump, and football manager Jose Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho has jumped to Division One for the manner of his interviews defending his lack of culpability over Chelsea’s bad start to the football season

Arsene Wenger, one of the butts of Jose Mourinho’s jibes, and also of Sir Alex’s recently published remarks, always defends himself logically in public, but with little charisma, and so enters in Division Four.

His former protagonist Sir Alex Ferguson returned from a period outside the headlines with a new best-selling book on business leadership. The vibrant illustrations of his leadership style indicate he exercised powerful influence although he denies being ‘a monster… in my reign’  [in his Reign.! Hmm] One to watch for a revival of his charismatic interviews which may even take him to the Premiership  of the Charismatic League, where he would surely want to be.

Jeremy Corbyn has attracted considerable media attention, and has been described as charismatic. His self-effacing style is unusual and he may well be a member of a rarer category of leader with some charismatic aspects yet perhaps closer to the leader of ‘humble style but with fierce determination’ written about by Jim Collins.

Nigel Farage made a strong charismatic impression on his UKIP conference audience,  and enters the tables in Division One.

Donald Trump has strengthened his position in Division One after several high impact performances where he cheerfully defends the  indefensible.

Andrew Castle attracted much criticism for his tennis commentaries particularly in the Davis Cup match between England and Australia. He seemed to have failed to engage viewers positively. He inspired the Face Book page Shut-Up-Andrew-Castle-you-know-nothing-about-Tennis Sorry Andrew. It’s Division Four for you, when you are keeping Tim Henman company.

Tony Pidgley of The Berkeley group received media attention for a life style that has a decidedly charismatic flavour to it, as he battled with activist shareholders who were seeking a more conventional leadership style of corporate governance. A worthy entry into the league tables.

The tables will be revised monthly until further notice. All proposals will be examined carefully by the editor of LWD before changes are made. The editor’s decision on such changes will be final. This utterly undemocratic process is one designed to avoid entryism, and other attempts to influence the league tables for personal interests.

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You don’t need a Kindle to read Amazon eBooks

October 4, 2015

imageMessage from your editor and author of the eBook Tennis Matters

Many people still miss out on ordering eBooks from Amazon because they do not own a Kindle. I discovered this after a little market research in the clubhouse of a well-known Manchester tennis club. Tennis playing friends had told me they wanted to buy my recently published eBook Tennis Matters.

When I later asked them what they thought of it they became rather evasive in their replies.

Was it because they found my masterpiece less than the fascinating read I had promised it to be? Perhaps so, although I had received unsolicited praise that gives so much easing of the pain experienced by the bruised ego of the newly published author. One who had been pressed into proof-reading duties noted

l have just finished your book on my Kindle en route to London and thought you might be interested in my views. The light-hearted tone coupled with the personal reminiscences (the antique tennis racket story struck a chord), the appeal to the tennis fan (of which I am one), and the leadership/business school angle made for an interesting and appealing mix. Having started out of a sense of quasi-duty to a friend I enjoyed it more and more

Encouraged by the message, I conducted a little trial on a convenience sample of nine social tennis players. Four out of the nine gave as their reason for not ordering a copy of Tennis Matters

‘ I do not have a Kindle’

To their unconfined joy, I was able to reassure each of them of their error, sending them on their way with the news that there is no need to have a Kindle to read said masterpiece which is available for the astonishing price of £1.99 or rough equivalent in other currencies.

If you go to the link for Tennis Matters you too will see that you can download a FREE App for iPhone, Tablet, or PC and then use it to order your eCopies of any book (including Tennis Matters of course).

Then you too will learn of my battles with a wayward forehand, try out the tennis teasers and catch up with the updated tennis posts from the 1000 plus archived materials of Leaders We Deserve.

An earlier post also outlined a little of the contents of Tennis Matters