Today’s guest post is by Sean Glaze a #LeadWithGiants Community member.
When I was coaching basketball, one of the key requirements to the team’s success was the ability of our athletes to finish plays around the rim and make layups. Everything play we ran offensively was ultimately to create opportunities for players to get easy shots – but players still had to MAKE them.
If our team was able to finish strong and make those plays around the rim, we usually won.
As a team, we might run through all kinds of action to attack a variety of anticipated defenses and situations – but success ultimately came down to our players finishing strong.
Over the years, it became clear that there were three main reasons that players finished weakly around the rim and were unable to score.
Reason 1- They lacked specific skills
If players had not taken the time to work on left handed layups, they often missed the majority of easy shots when they had to finish on that side. Every athlete has a “weak hand,” and developing that weakness to the point that it does not negatively impact the team’s performance is important.
Reason 2- They assumed it would be easy
Sometimes players would take for granted that the ball was going to fall through the net if they just got it close, and they would toss it up instead of finishing with intensity and focus. Rather than expecting things to be easy, every teammate performs better when they expect things to be tough, but worth it.
Reason 3- They avoided necessary contact
Weak players often twisted their bodies awkwardly in an attempt to keep from being hit or having their shot blocked, and by doing so they made the shot far more difficult. Around the basket or around the office, every teammate must not only anticipate, but should welcome positive conflict and get comfortable with those encounters if he/she wants to succeed.
As you read through the list above, you will notice that these are the same three reasons why teams finish their games or seasons weakly.
On your team, whether you are in the athletic arena or in a corporate situation, the three secrets to helping your team finish strong are the same as well:
Solution 1- Identify and help to build the skills that your teammates will need in order to succeed. What do the key metrics and statistics in your organization dictate need to be areas of strength? Invest time in your team development and training based on those needs.
Solution 2- Team and individual toughness is about consistency. Making a great move and beating your man to the basket, or working through hundreds of hours on a project, becomes worthless if you lose focus and stumble down the stretch. It is how you finish that your audience will remember. Keep your team motivated to finish strong by emphasizing the importance of finishing strong every time, and not making assumptions based upon past success.
Solution 3- Create a culture where the uncomfortable becomes more comfortable. People, by nature, are uncomfortable with contact or conflict, but sometimes a collision (or tough conversation) is necessary in to get beyond obstacles and accomplish your goals. Help build a culture where crucial conversations occur and people learn that conflict is not combat.
Once you are aware of the common reasons for weak finishes, you become more capable of overcoming them and working on the solutions that help your team to finish strong.
Finishing is arguably the most important skill you can develop – but to do this, you will need to establish a culture where teammates are coachable – where relationships are strong enough and standards are high enough that they support and encourage improvement in the above three vital areas.
To build relationships, I encourage you to consider a day of athletic, corporate, or teacher team building that will serve as a catalyst for creating and strengthening the connections among your people. A challenging day of laughter and insightful lessons can have an incredible impact on your daily interactions.
To raise or clarify your organizational standards, I encourage you to consider working through my free “implementing core team virtues” workbook that helps to identify the values and behaviors that will define your group’s success.
To improve skills, clarify what roles your people need to play and then give them the training that will support their development. We do well what we do often, so repetition is important. Give them an opportunity to practice the things they will need to perform.
Wherever you are in your current season, if you want your season or project to end well you will want to invest time and energy in the skills, standards, and relationships that impact their ability to finish strong.