The Super Bowl and the first College Football Playoff National Championship are winding down and the definition of “Champion” has been rolling through my head. It’s a given that most groups strive to be #1, but few have reached the coveted spot and “put a ring on it”. Statistically most people will only taste the thrill of saying they are number one a few times in their lives, and many never. Does this make everyone else a loser? I’ll answer that later.
There are some franchises and organizations that seem to be ordained to win Championships, or at least to always appear to be in the hunt for that coveted spot. Are they just lucky, or is there a quantifiable formula for an organization to always be in the hunt? I don’t believe in luck, so it must be the latter, and I do see a unified theme if you break down Championship caliber people and organizations to their core elements. Do you strive to win a Championship in your respective field? Let’s “tackle” that objective!
Recruit the best and brightest, and always be recruiting
No organization is going to sign up every recruit to their team. The ones that are proactively selling rising talent will gain a much stronger potential for star players than those that wait for them to drop in their lap. Your team should be a series of connected and talented individuals working for a common goal, but one misstep in recruiting and hiring can derail the Championship goals.
Add to your Playbook: Have an engine in place to actively recruit the best, and placing online ads doesn’t count. Start with your local colleges and build a relationship. You won’t see resumes flowing immediately, but your Championship caliber talent pool will be much higher in the long run. Additionally, your image is everything to securing a deep bench of talent that is clamoring to work for you. Ask honest questions to industry peers and receive what you hear. The best talent will work for a company they are proud of.
Be creative and innovative
If we had a time machine and took the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears and stacked them up against any recent Champion, it would be a slaughter. Sorry if you’re a Bears fan of that era, but it’s true. The same could be said for any organization from 1985. We must evolve and push the creative envelope or find yourself outdated and a dinosaur. Creative organizations take the time to look forward not just a week or month, but actively predict the future and stay nimble enough to be one step ahead.
Add to your Playbook: As business leaders, we tend to be bogged down with deadlines, emails, and frankly just keeping up. Stop and breathe at least once a week. Assess not only your organization, but look to the future and say “what’s next” and write it down on a board over your desk. Championships are won by organizations that see what’s next before they are playing catch up to the next team, who designed the new frontier themselves.
Are Champions just lucky? Doubtful, but you often hear that they are. Champions have a tremendous sense of tenacity in everything that they do, bundled with a high sense of urgency to achieve. Tomorrow will never come when Championships are won in millisecond results and decisions.
Add to your Playbook: Champions rarely have perfect seasons and even if they do, they still have to battle for each win. Approaching each day with a fresh level of attack is often challenging in today’s fast pace business world, but is critical to producing Championship results. Take a moment each morning to not just pump up your star players, but to coach your rising superstars to approach each day with tenacity.
Be respectful and polite. It drives loyalty
We live in a world where negativity is overwhelmingly bombarded at us every day through social media and news outlets. Even a Championship caliber team will be treated to some of this negativity and criticism, but Champions have the internal ability to let negative attacks roll off their back and not lash out. Champions then turn these negative attacks into positive action and improved results, and is truly a key trait for success. The best customer is one that started out disappointed, and ends up being a long term fan of your team through your actions.
Add to your Playbook: Championships are won with a foundations of great basics and consistent performance, and this starts with superb customer service skills and being polite. Performance continues by instilling powerful sales and customer service engines, as a part of your culture. If these engines are broken, assuredly a Championship ring is out of your reach. Personally touch your customers and clients randomly each week by picking up the phone and having an old fashioned phone conversation. You will learn a great deal, and the client will never forget your personal touch. This will assure that your sales and customer service playbook is always at the top of its game.
I asked the question earlier if everyone who is not #1 a loser? Of course not, but it is something for all individuals and organizations to strive for year after year. Championship organizations are built brick by brick each day and taking ONE positive thought and implementing that thought into ONE positive action, which will lead to ONE positive new result, and you are well on your way to a Championship organization and being in the number ONE spot!
Chris A. Ryan-Lawrence
CEO, Consultant and Speaker