Like millions of people all around the world, I have been enjoying the spectacle of the Olympic Games. Watching top performers at the peak of their abilities is always good but the Olympics are special. They offer a unique combination of competition and camaraderie that creates a WOW! that uplifts athlete and spectator alike.
There can be no doubt about the intensity of the competition. Every athlete is striving to stretch beyond anything they have ever achieved before and prepared to endure massive physical discomfort in the process, which is what makes it such compelling viewing. Nevertheless, the competition somehow still, ultimately, seems to become secondary. Goodwill and good sportsmanship is manifested in a way it isn’t in any other sporting arena.
Perhaps – and I can only surmise – this is due to the recognition that the Games have brought together people at the very top of their field. This, compounded by the fact that they only come around every four years creates a mutual respect and a unique bond that isn’t repeated in any other sports competition. This unites rather than divides and may be why just taking part is enough for all but the very elite.
For example, there were 9 or 10 heats just for the men’s 100 metre athletics. That is 80-90 sprinters. And there are only three medals (two if you exclude Usain Bolt!) Consequently for most athletes it ultimately comes down to competing against themselves – to doing their very best. So, for them the measure of success is simply achieving a “Personal Best” (PB). For them that is remarkable. However, their endeavour, and the chance of the unexpected, is what gives the Games their distinctive character and what makes them such a pleasure to watch.
There is an important lesson here for any business leader. To achieve the remarkable you need to create an enabling culture that promotes PBs. You need an environment that encourages, recognises and rewards PBs. Only when you create a distinctive employer brand that offers a superior customer experience and gives you a competitive edge, will you achieve the remarkable and make people want to do business with you.
If you doubt this, you just have to listen to the interviews of the medal-winning athletes. In so many cases the first thing they do is thank their others without whom, they acknowledge, their achievement would not have been possible. The fact is that great personal achievement is seldom, if ever, the result only of the individual’s own effort.
One of the most remarkable and inspiring examples of this was the Great Britain cycle team. It completely dominated the cycling events to such an extent that:
- It won most of the medals
- Every single competing athlete won a medal
- Almost all its members are looking forward to getting back to their training!
They were so successful that all the other teams are questioning how they did it, and even voicing suspicions of illegal tactics, which they cannot substantiate and which, in a sport recently ravaged by doping scandal, seems highly unlikely and, hopefully, totally unfounded. Rather than every single rider expressing their gratitude to their support team, most interesting here was the numbers of people and size and functions of those teams: family, coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, mechanics, physiotherapists, etc.
Being awesome and achieving the remarkable is truly a team effort, for both an individual and an organisation. It depends on every member of the team doing their best, personally and collectively. You could say it is the result of a number of PBs. So if you want an organisation that achieves the remarkable and creates WOW! you need to recognise that ‘Every Individual Matters.’