Blog – “Resilience: Life after sport, from boot room to boardroom”

By Esther

Blog “Resilience: Life after sport, from boot room to boardroom” Guest speaker Leon Lloyd, Leicester Tigers and England rugby player.
HR in hospitality event Monday 12 March 2018 (Esther O’Halloran)

Hosted by Park Plaza Hotels, Riverbank
“Any type of transition is a scary reality that we all face in our day to day lives, be that a promotion at work” or changing a job. What are the transferrable skills you have and the things you have learnt and how can these help you? Leon Lloyd shared some really great insights and experiences that he learnt sometimes the hard way from sport, that helped him transition into a more business role and from a HR perspective there are some great lessons we can learn also.

Here are some of the key messages that resonated with me and our HR audience;

Mentoring: We all encourage mentoring in our businesses as a way to develop and support others and it is interesting to think of it in this way, not only for sharing our knowledge and experience but reflecting on what we have done so; “What would you tell a younger version of yourself if you had your time again?”

People: Understand those around you so they can better understand you! What is the perception of your team or peers of you? How do people see you? When you think of Richard Branson or see his image an immediate perception is formed (entrepreneur, successful) even if you have never met him. He is often quoted as saying “The best way of learning about anything is by doing” and this is a good approach that we often adopt for on-job training. If you asked your colleagues to pick 3 words to describe you would they be the same 3 words you would use to describe yourself? Try it! The key point here is understanding your role within the team and appreciating other roles.

Teamwork: This is critical to every organisation and very much so in a sports team. Leon likened organisation teamwork to that of key rugby positions and why these roles are critical. Think about your work environment in these terms; The Prop (usually the guys with the cauliflower ears who dive in head first, go places others would not want to….) these are your ‘Cornerstones’ the ones who do all the hard often dirty work but often do not get recognised. Or the ‘Worker Bees’ these are your Hookers in rugby the ones who co-ordinate things, work fast keep it all together, so who does that in your organisation? However, the glory and recognition often go to the Captain (and we cannot all be captains), we all have leaders of our business, but we also have leaders within our business! It is important that we get the balance right in our organisations and understand the roles people play in our teams, who are the real heroes in yours? How often do you walk around your business and see things from their perspective?

Dealing with Challenges: Preparing for and dealing with change how ready are we? We live and operate in an increasing volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous (VUCA) world and being able to manage and support people through change and challenges is an important part of not only a manager’s role but also HR in supporting them. The Kubler Ross Curve is a perfect example to use when dealing with challenge and change. When Leon first shared the quote below asking us to guess the date of when this might be, our immediate thoughts were Brexit, or maybe the 2008 financial crisis but no, guess again….
“It is a gloomy moment in the history of our country. Not in the lifetime of most men has there been so much grave and deep apprehension. Never has the future seemed so uncertain. The domestic economic situation is in chaos. Our currency is weak throughout the world. The political cauldron seethes and bubbles with uncertainty. It is a solemn moment. Of our troubles no man can see the end.”
Harpers Weekly Gazette – October 1857

This really made me reflect on the fact that some things just never change but how we deal with it does. So, thinking in terms of the constant change in the hospitality industry, what plans and support mechanisms do you have in place to communicate, engage and support people through change in your organisation?

As with the Kubler Ross Curve the emotions and feelings people go through when dealing with any change is common, whether it is dealing with a change of team or boss or moving into a new department or organisation, it is important to remember how we could all easily dip into those lows. For HR and line managers we need to notice these dips and intervene to encourage and motivate people out of the ‘valley of despair’ and convince them they have made the right decision or to change the path if they need to.

Sweet & Sour experience: To fully appreciate the sweet you must first taste the sour, reflecting on lessons learnt when you do not always ‘win’ (the job, promotion) or get that good news you hoped for. So a lesson from sport when players reflect after every match, what could they do better next time and who helped them win? Close your eyes and picture that winning moment. Who is the first person you call, what do you say to them, what does it feel like and who has helped you on your journey of success? Helping people to deal with setbacks and being prepared for winning is a key part of our role. “if it is worth having, it might painful getting there and it will certainly be a bumpy ride, but it will be worth it”

So the 3 takeaways Leon gave us to think about resilience were;
1. People: how do people see you and how do you want to be seen?
2. Challenge: embrace challenge and change and control the controllable.
3. Resilience: success is a journey not a destination. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.