A Sporting Chance


One of my favourite speakers is Damian Hughes, professor of organisational psychology and change at Manchester Metropolitan University. He’s the ultimate coach’s coach, an academic with a sports background who knows about the winning mindset.

Great coaches, according to Hughes, have something in common. “They create an environment in which people feel safe enough to ask questions and admit they don’t know everything. That’s where the real coaching work begins because people are exposing a gap in their knowledge and are looking for a leader to help them fill that gap.”

From Liquid Thinking and How to Think Like Sir Alex Ferguson to his latest book The Barcelona Way Damian offers unique insights into the issues confronting the modern corporate environment, and shows how the lessons learnt at FC Barcelona can also be applied to develop a winning corporate culture.

The new book is not so much the Barcelona way as the Pep Guardiola way. Guardiola knows about teamwork “Winning is very hard, whatever the competition. And winning again is even harder. We have worked hard all this time, and that’s what I’m proudest of. I give you my word that the players will make the utmost effort”.

A winning environment

The power of teamwork is that the sum of the total resource is greater than the individual constituent parts. Coaching can make a real difference, a study by Borland and Lye which looked at coaches working in Australian Rules Football noted that there is direct evidence of a coach-team match-specific effect on team performance. Successful coaches are more than great motivator, they are leaders, mentors, and teachers, they cultivate behaviours that drive passion and performance. Matching the coach to the team or individual is important as there is a level of trust and confidence involved but a coach facilitates learning and coachees is empowered to continuous learning and improved performance.

Good coaching is about creating a winning environment – recruiting, developing and nurturing talent, communicating a shared vision to a diverse team of individuals, delivering on stakeholder expectations while overcoming significant challenges, handling pressure and staying focused. As Damian puts it: “One of the trademarks of Manchester United as a club is that they keep on coming at you. Ferguson was relentless with his ‘We expect to win’ tone”.

The key to success is a willingness to learn. We know that those who thrive in changing times are those with the ability to see, feel and experience success before they actually achieve it. Damian Hughes has a formula for this:

I x V = R which represents Imagination x Vividness = Reality

And he describes Sir Alex Ferguson’s great strength as his insistence that everyone at his club shared his ruthless focus on ignoring what he called’ the peripherals of change’ and managing the challenge of an exclusive focus on being the best.

Good goals

I’m a great proponent of setting and regularly reviewing goals as a way to make sense of personal and professional life. Edwin Locke and Gary Latham spent years studying top performers and found they all set goals. They estimate that an effective goal can improve performance by up to 16% (the equivalent of saving yourself an hour in an average eight hour day). All the sportspeople that Damian quotes suggest that focus on the goal is key to success. He points out the problem for most people is that they lose sight of their strengths at the very time they need to be focusing on then the most. Your strengths represent the things you really excel at. Understanding this and ensuring your use them more effectively enables the creation of a winning environment.

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees. Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions. He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy. Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty. Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching. Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

Posted in Career advice, coaching, Collaboration, Corporate culture

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.


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