My coach is really mean. When I fail an exercise, he says things like “Great, that was much better than last time”. When things go completely wrong: “It’s not about mastering, it’s about attempting. The skill grows over constant practice!” I must confess, he sometimes gets on my nerves at this moment. But it works!
We torture ourselves more than anyone else about our mistakes. We chasten ourselves and feel incapable. “I am such a fool; I will never make it” we shout to ourselves. What use would it be if the trainer reconfirmed our inner opinion? Instead of strengthening our self-confidence we only get closer to giving up.
Everybody knows films with American drill sergeants who slam recruits: “My grandmother can do better than that! You worm!” But what happens to us in this situation? We feel bad and bite through somehow. When we have a star on our shoulders, we give everything back to the young ones and turn them down. The goal of this military training is not developing self-confident and independent humans, but obedient slaughter cattle shouting “Yes, Sir!”.
My trainer is by no means a dream-dancing wimp. He is a martial arts world champion and the training is accordingly demanding and challenging. But his successes prove his method right.
Within one year he managed to form national champions out of untrained and traumatized young people. They not only learn the technique of martial arts but more importantly they gain self-confidence and respect for others. In the end, it is not about collecting medals and belts, but about mastering life. The motto is: “Mastering fighting means no longer having to fight.”
He is certainly not always in a good mood. He also has moments of doubt and anger. However, he leaves them out of the leadership situation during the training because he plays a different role there. There he is responsible for the individual growth of the trainees at this moment.
We can learn a lot from this for the professional environment. If an employee comes to us meekly because he has done a mistake, the first impulse is of course to bash him. How can he be so stupid? Now he’s creating work for us because we have to justify ourselves to all kinds of idiots. What a bad image this creates for our department – meaning, for ourselves. We’d like to kick him out immediately.
But what is the effect if we pursue our spontaneous raving madness? We make the guilty employee even smaller and destroy his self-confidence. In the future, he will think twice whether he will confide in us again and only come to us when there is no other way and the damage has already grown into a veritable crisis. Or he withdraws and prefers to do nothing at all. If you do nothing, you will not make any mistakes. We create a culture of fear and kill performance by damaging self-confidence. We destroy potential hence value.
When we learn to ride a motorcycle, the driving instructors tell us to always look as far as possible in the direction we want to ride. The bike automatically pulls in the direction we look. If we look into the abyss next to the road during a mountain tour, we will not only lose the fun of riding, it is even life-threatening. We have to look ahead with full attention – taking into account all the pebbles on the way.
It is not only important for visionary managers to point the way and encourage employees to develop their potential. In this way, the available power can develop optimally – and everyone enjoys it more. And if we get pissed, we should let it out elsewhere. I had a punching bag in my office for that.
This perspective also increases our self-confidence. After all, any emotional outburst of the boss says more about his leadership qualities than about our own abilities.
What about you?
Have you ever bashed an employee after misconduct?
How did you feel afterward?
How did your employee feel?
What was the longterm benefit?