Have you ever asked yourself how solid are the words you say in front of your associates, do they aim the mere essence of the challenge you are addressing and will the words you said make them change their behavior? To simplify – how strong is your integrity as a leader?
If you think the integrity is simply granted to you by the position you hold, or the fact that someone calls you “boss” – you cannot be more wrong. Do not let yourself be fooled by sweet words that you are the best boss ever, or the true leader they have always been waiting for. You will be surprised how dishonest people may be, especially when it comes to their own interests, and how manipulative they can be in order to reach their goal.
Baring in mind, that in my team only, there are more than 130 leaders, and that I am practically surrounded by leaders, or at least those who may be considered as such by their current position – I was thinking how to define an individual who is predefined to become a true leader. I am almost 100% sure that an individual without social and emotional intelligence will never become a true leader. A potential leader needs such intelligence in order to be able to recognize all those deviations and behavior types that I described in the beginning. A true leader must be an amateur-psychologist, described in modern words. The second, very important skill is charisma. Without it, a potential leader will never have a true followers behind, will never be able to move the masses and get the maximum out of the people. The third characteristic necessary for a true leader is ATTITUDE.
However, those three things that are, in my view, the basic pre-conditions for becoming a leader cannot be learned. You are simply born with it. So, you either have them or you do not. Perhaps, some of them may be built while growing up, some partially depends on the surroundings, but I am deeply convinced you must have those characteristics innate.
If I would try to describe leadership with one metaphor – I would say it is like tango, like a dancing improvisation that combines rhythm and movement, where musicians follow the dancers using their natural sense of hearing, not the opposite. It is not at all easy to play tango, first you have to understand it, then feel it and only after you learn the basic steps. Both tango and leadership are above all – art.
However, let us get back to our main topic.
Last year, I was fascinated by the phenomenon I called Đoković. To be straight from the beginning – besides the fact I am a hardcore fan of Novak Đoković and that I know only basic principles of tennis – I can call myself totally ignorant when it come to this sport. By watching Novak all these years, I was simply convinced he would come back to the throne sooner or later no matter how hard his injury had been. Many used to write him off by speaking of his wrong vegan diet, family problems , wife that ruined him, and all similar nonsense, since we as a nation, are widely known as experts for all kinds of sports qualified for this only by our daily visit to a supermarket (which at the same time represents our biggest reach in terms of sports). I was convinced in his return for one reason only – because he has a character of a champion, being at the same time a top tennis player. The injury that he had definitely triggered downfall in his performance, but I am deeply convinced this was not the only reason. I recently had the honor of listening to a master piece of my lecturer, called ” Burnout syndrome in sports”, which proved my doubts right, although I think Novak mentioned this syndrome affected his performance, especially his motivation.
This brings us to the eternal question – what is next after conquering Maunt Everest? The answer to this question gave our famous climber Dragan Jaćimović in one sentence: “It is not about the peak you climbed, but about the path you used to reached it”. Every path is different.
Still, the successful operation and recovery that Novak had and the fact that he enjoyed tennis again, were not enough for the champ to get back to the old path of glory. At that moment, even the most optimistic of his supporters – wrote him off, already seeing him in ‘tennis retirement’. All this lasted until the moment when Novak dismantled his team, the team of outstanding experts, and decided to re-hire his long-term coach and friend Marjan Vajda, and not long after his old conditional trainer Gebhard Phill Gritch. Those were two experts together with whom he won everything in his life, who knew him by heart. The Slovak, who is – being a part of Slav, by mentality very similar to Novak. Everything was ready for a great comeback of our champion.
Although I am not quite familiar with tennis, I am absolutely sure that Vajda’s approach to training’s was not in style: I will send him a morning email with three questions: “Novak, what did you do yesterday in order to become “number one”, what will you do today about this and what tomorrow?”, or by sending his trainee a current ATP status via WhatsApp by commenting how Rafa and Roger can do what is asked and by showing him their current ranks. I assume this would be even better if Rafa and Federer are within the same WhatsApp group as Novak?. Believe it or not, some managers are convinced this approach is a guarantee of success. They even tend to claim their current success is achieved by these remarkable coaching tools.
I had a chance to read the level of details Vajda made in his feedback to Novak. It mentioned the new way of serving, which implies to the elbow position at the moment of serve, bearing in mind the new circumstances as a consequence of previous operation Novak had (I saw the picture before and after and I can tell you that it is a matter of centimetres). He used to work on all the segments of Novak’s game, including both physical and psychological aspect. Every time Novak would run out into the field, the improvement was more than obvious. Imagine, one top player and champion also needs a coach, someone to observe and supervise his performances from aside, someone to give him a piece of advice regarding what he needs to change or improve. He also needs a conditional trainer. As a matter a fact, he needs the all team of experts.
Based on the above, a logical question emerges: What we, as leaders, do with our top performers? In most cases, we do not take care of them as long as they bring us the results. We are mainly focused at those below the desired performance level. Does this mean we will never be able to make a champion? There are big chances this is exactly what will happen, even worse, we can turn our future champion in a mediocre performer, or he can even experience the “burnout syndrome” if we do not take care about him.
It is needed much more for a champion than just a tap on a shoulder, a champion needs a coach or in our case a leader who will help him overcome the obstacles imposed by the others, especially the obstacles he subconsciously set to himself.
“Wise people say that a man prefers choosing not to lose little than to gain much. It is always easier for us to watch through our little window, than to come out into the street. You will be surprised by what we are ready to do in order to preserve our habits, at the same time ignoring a simple fact that:”Life is a road we sometimes travel upwards, sometimes downwards, sometimes the journey is straight, sometimes it is full of curves, sometimes we can see far in front of us and everything is clear, and sometimes we can not see the road out of the obstacles that stand on it. We set big obstacles to each other, but the biggest ones we set to ourselves.”