Five Ways Leaders Can Instantly Shift Momentum

This is a guest post by Tor Constantino. He is a former journalist, has an MBA, and works in public relations where he has directly reported to several CEOs in his career. He lives near Washington, D.C. with his wife and two daughters. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Every successful leader wants to be a “game-changer.” If you’ve ever watched a televised sports event, you’ve no doubt heard commentators banter back-and-forth about key points in the game where “momentum shifted” in favor of the winner.

Downshifting in a Car - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/dtimiraos, Image #4801950

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/dtimiraos

Regardless of what caused an unplanned momentum shift, it’s safe to say it usually occurs among the competitors themselves who are directly engaged on the “field of play.”

However, a team’s coach has the ability to sway a game with planned “momentum shifters.”

Even though a coach—as the team’s de facto leader—might not be the one physically running, catching or participating, a coach has several options at his/her disposal to intentionally redirect momentum.

Here are five strategies a coach can use to instantly shift momentum, which are applicable to other leaders as well:

  1. Call a time-out. Experienced coaches use this tactic in virtually every type of competition to give their own players a break, assess the game situation, disrupt the positive inertia of the opposing team, and select the best option for the next moment to position their team to win.

    This effective tool is sometimes used during business negotiations as a “cooling off” period but it is largely overlooked and underutilized outside of sports analogies, despite its usefulness.

  2. Substitute a player. Switching players in and out of a game is an obvious way to help them recharge mentally and physically so that they can ultimately reenter the fray to help their team to victory. However, in some instances, a specific situation may require a skill set that doesn’t necessarily belong to a player that’s currently in the game.

    If it’s the field of play or the field sales force, it’s the responsibility of the coach/leader to recognize and assess that larger context and make the appropriate personnel adjustments as needed.

  3. Bench a player. Whether it’s in a locker room or a board room, type-A charged egos tend to abound. In some instances, the individual success of a dynamic player or stellar employee may hurt the team if the individual somehow appears larger than the group or above its shared values and rules.

    A savvy coach who’s engaged with his team can avoid major fissures from forming. That leader needs to be aware of this constant threat, consistently applying rewards and discipline as needed and not being afraid to sideline a key producer. It’s a good reminder for the group that no individual can win on their own.

  4. Try the unexpected. This is usually the most difficult thing for a leader or coach to do because of the inherent risk associated with this type of call. It’s much easier to maintain the status quo; however, surprise can carry the day.

    Whether it’s New Orleans Saints’ coach Sean Peyton starting the second half of the 2010 Super Bowl with an onside kick, an unexpected acquisition bid by Sirius Satellite Radio for XM Satellite Radio, or Alexander the Great slicing through the Gordian Knot—sometimes the quickest way to victory is by setting aside conventional wisdom in favor of a novel, game-changing solution.

  5. Take one for the team. This tactic is most apparent when a basketball coach gets a technical foul, an NFL coach gets fined or a baseball manager gets ejected for arguing with a game official. When a leader or coach takes a penalty on principle for the entire group, it can be a rallying point for the team to perform.

    Since character does matter in all areas of life, and leaders are supposed to set an example, this particular tactic can only be used very rarely since repeated use can quickly break down discipline among subordinates and players. In a business setting this might look like a boss who lets the team take a half-day Friday or who escalates and fights for more funding of a critical team project, such leaders tend to lift the needs of the team above their own. That’s a leader that people follow.

While each of these concepts most readily applies within the context of athletics, they can find easy parallels and comparisons within other groups. Whether it’s a church, corporation, school board, union or non-profit organization each of those groups will at some point need an instant shift in momentum that only their respective leaders can execute.

That’s because successful execution begins with capable leadership, especially when the game is on the line.

What additional things can a coach/leader do to instantly shift momentum if necessary? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Recently, I was listening to leadership podcast by Andy Stanley on “Gaining & Sustaining Momentum”.  I learnt some good lessons from his two part audio message. 

    Andy shared, “New triggers momentum. (In fact, negative circumstances are the great soil for positive momentum.) Momentum is sustained by continuous improvement. Continuous improvement requires systematic, regular evaluation.”

    In order to shift the momentum, I believe we need to keep on innovating. This is especially true in a business world. When something new strikes the market, the buzz is created and momentum begins.

    Creating momentum is one but I feel sustaining momentum is the key. Successful organizations are know this very well and are good at sustaining theirs.

    • Anonymous

      Great point Uma. I think we’re both talking about the same thing – organizational inertia.
      The law of inertia states that, “Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion and bodies at rest tend to stay at rest.”

      This principle applies to organizations, work groups and teams as well as the natural world. Yet, I completely agree with you that the best leaders must maintain positive directional momentum.

      • http://smallgroupbooks.com Ryan K

        It’s definitely the exception. I see a lot of leaders who get their position cause they were good at a specific task and not because they know how to lead. In this situation it’s great to know how to manage up.

        There does seem to be a young generation of leaders that are investing in themselves and will have lots of opportunities to be great leaders. These people will rise to the top and less effective leaders will get lost on the way.

        • Anonymous

          I think you’re right – an outstanding sales rep in the field won’t necessarily be a great VP of sales. The strategic skill set required for leadership is quite different than that of a functional role. That’s not to say a sales rep can’t become COO or CEO, but the individual who aspires to leadership must be both intentional about it and a lifelong learner.

    • http://smallgroupbooks.com Ryan K

      Great point. Andy is a great leader. I had forgotten that message but you’re right that new helps create and sustain momentum.

    • Anonymous

      I was thinking about Stanley’s point as I was reading Michael’s post.   We’ve certainly found this to be true at our church.  Sometimes it’s as simple as changing around people’s classrooms or offices.  Everyone seems to get an extra burst of energy when they see things changing.

      When I was taking education classes, a professor once told us of a study in which a company changed the wattage of the light bulbs in the building without telling anyone and employee morale actually improved.  (Sorry I can’t quote a source.  Hope this isn’t anecdotal.) Seems that subconciously, the employees sensed the change and felt that that the company “cared” about them enough to improve working conditions.

      • TorConstantino

        Karl, sometimes “change-for-the-sake-of-change” or injecting something new into an organization can be enough to spark a momentum shift. 

        Regarding the study you mentioned about light bulbs – when Nike first opened its retail store outlets across the country it intentionally designed them to create a great experience for the customer. They even tested the dispersion of different aromas to see if they shifted buying behaviors.

        They found that a hint of lemon in the air elevated people’s moods so they’d purchase more. To your point, sometimes little things can make a big difference!

        • Anonymous

          That’s a great illustration of the point. Thanks for sharing.

          • TorConstantino

            I’m thrilled that you’ve been so engaged over my guest post here on Michael’s site – I appreciate it!

          • Anonymous

            I’ve also enjoyed your blog. Particularly enjoyed the post, “The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned This Summer”.

    • Anonymous

      I will have to check out the podcast, thank you for sharing the resource Uma.

      I agree with you when you said innovation is key to shifting momentum or even having momentum. Great points.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      I agree, Uma.  Thanks for sharing these insights.  I immediately thought of Apple as I was reading your comment.  Apple has a process of continual innovation which has both given it momentum, and helped it to keep momentum on its side.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Agreed Robert!

        Subject: [mhyatt] Re: Five Ways Leaders Can Instantly Shift Momentum

  • http://smallgroupbooks.com Ryan K

    I thinking in the Taking One for the Team description a good example is when a project goes bad and the leader takes the blame for the team failing instead of throwing it on someone else. That would help in shifting momentum.

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely, leaders that take that tact clearly set themselves apart from others. Unfortunately, I don’t know what your experience has been Ryan, but I think the type of leader we’re talking about is becoming more of the exception rather than the rule.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Oftentimes, the board of directors of an organization makes the ultimate change, forcing the CEO to take one for the team, and replacing them.  We just saw this in HP, when they hired Meg Whitman as their new CEO.  This will probably mean a significant change in direction and momentum.

  • Anonymous

    I am not sure if it is pride, personality or ignorance, but the coaches and leaders I see fail do not have the ability to change the game plan if it is not working. Instead of getting input and charting a new game plan they just keep moving forward even if it is not the best option. Great leaders seem to know their team, have integrity and truly strive for the best outcome. They get out of their own head and connect with their team.

    Pierce
    MarrsCoaching.com

    • TorConstantino

      Pierce, I think that’s spot on – the best leaders have the pulse of the “locker room.” Not only that, the superstar leaders have a sense of what’s going on in the lives of their team members beyond the confines of the team. That way the leadership group might be better positioned to shore and support the individual who’s experiencing external difficulties that might bleed over into the team itself.

  • Anonymous

    Great thoughts! My comment is more of a question. In staying with the coach theme, how do leaders effectively “call an audible” without losing the team in the noise? Thanks!

    • TorConstantino

      Keeping with the analogy, audibles or real-time changes usually come from the quarterback or a player on the field. However, I think you make an excellent point about communication – which is critically important for the success and trust of the team. 

      I think it’s the leader’s responsibility to establishment the tonality of dialogue with which the team will engage as well as demonstrate a bi-directional feedback loop. This needs to be done early at the team’s formation or during “practice” so that effective communication can occur regardless of the level of noise or interference.

      • Anonymous

        Tor…thanks for the insight.  I’m in the beginning process of “starting something new”…a church plant in Philly.  I want to make sure to establish a communication process that works up front!

        • TorConstantino

          Steve, that’s a critical role that’s often overlooked. When I was working on my MBA, I was stunned at how heavily weighted toward quantitative hard skills (e.g. finance, accounting, statistics…etc.) the curriculum was geared, with virtually no qualitative components (e.g. active listening, internal communication, presentation development…etc.) 

          The truth is, no matter how great an idea you have – you’re going to have to communicate it to others. It sounds like you’re on the correct footing. 

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            That’s interesting that an MBA program would be so weighted that way.

    • Anonymous

      That’s a great point.  The play doesn’t work even if only one person fails to hear the audible.  Fortunately, in most other leadership positions, there isn’t the dynamic of having the competition in your relative vicinity when you’re making announcements about changes, so it’s easier to provide repetition and give time for feedback/discussion.

      • TorConstantino

        Karl, absolutely – however the true communication crippler is “interference,” which manifests itself in a bunch of ways without any competitive influence at all.  

        Examples of interference within an organization might be conflicting personalities, different work styles, lack of resources or time, as well as competing priorities to name a few. Great leaders need to build an internal/external communications protocol that can function at a high level regardless of the interference. 

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    A powerful, analogous post, Tor. I think an additional point might be celebrating a victory. At the end of a game, it is the coach’s job to reassess the game. While this is important in a game that is lost, it’s actually highly critical in a winning game. It’s necessary to let the team feel victory, to learn what went right, and to prepare for the next round of battle.

    In business, this sometimes gets lost or is taken for granted. When you finish a major project on time and it ships with success, celebration is in order. A leader should arrange for a lunch or dinner, where workers can come together and celebrate the team effort. This builds rapport and lets everyone know that their hard work is appreciated!

    There is no quicker way to douse the morale of a department, than to take them for granted.

    BTW, Tor is the name of one of the main characters in my book, The Path of Consequence. He is a rock solid leader in times of trouble.

    • TorConstantino

      John, that’s powerful insight! Celebration and recognition go hand-in-hand. Most human resource executives note the critical role that recognition plays in employee retention – in some instances, it’s even more important that remuneration. 

      Beyond the HR benefits, celebration also provides the team with a direct benefit in the form of  “closure” on that objective or project. They’re then primed to tackle the next big thing. 

      That brings up an interesting question.  If a project fails, due to external circumstances beyond the control of the team, should the team’s effort still be celebrated?

      (BTW, I’ll be sure to order your book on AMZ – your character sounds like a unique individual who dresses well ;-)

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      John, I agree… you need to celebrate your team victories as a team, and a leader needs to recognize their teammates’ accomplishments.

  • Anonymous

    Great analogy. I’ve worked for “leaders” who have needed to, and have even tried to shift momentum only to see it backfire or fall flat. The lack of relationship with one or more team members can be a cause of this failure.

    I am curious about this. How important do you feel relationships are between the “coach” and the team as it relates to either creating or shifting momentum?

    • TorConstantino

      That’s a great question Chas! I can’t think of a single vocation in life that can function in complete isolation. Every venture is relational because we all have stakeholders to whom we’re accountable, or we need help from others to meet our commitments. None of us does it alone. 

      In answering your question, I think the most effective leaders are those who actively engage their team members without playing favorites. Your people have to believe in you, if they’re going to follow you. A good example would be Jesus, who had “intimates” but not “favorites.” That’s a good model to follow!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    Good stuff. In today’s leadership culture we don’t see many leaders wanting to take one for the team. In fact, many of them would rather throw someone under the bus than take one for the team. In their desire to achieve they forget that they need the team members to help them achieve victory.

    • TorConstantino

      Eric, I completely agree with your point that a leader can achieve very little on their own. A lot of current business management/leadership thought arose from successful military leaders during World War II. The greatest of those leaders owned their failures and successes – regardless of causation. It’s a lesson we shouldn’t forget.

    • Anonymous

      Unfortunately, today’s culture is all about ME and MY success. In reality, when a leader falls on HIS sword instead of asking (or forcing) someone else to, the leader actually wins in the long run.

      • TorConstantino

        I agree Chas that that’s the long-term outcome for intentional leaders of integrity, but too many higher-ups have a short-term view.

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  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    Wow, Tor.  I have never looked at it this way!  I appreciate the insight…I will be applying it today!

    I will add one point that follows your analogy…a coach cannot rely on the players to recognize when a momentum change is required.  In some instances with rare performers, a player may call a critical audible or time-out.  But a coach cannot wait on that to happen.

    It is our responsibility as leaders to be in tune with the pulse of the game and prepared to make the critical (possibly unpopular) call when the time is right.  Waiting even a moment can mean a missed opportunity.  Worse, not being in tune because we are relying on the players to make those calls is simply reckless negligence.

    • TorConstantino

      Chris, I really think you’ve hit on an excellent point that it’s the leader’s role and responsibility to continually monitor and track the health of the organization/team. 

      While every leader would love to have a Peyton Manning-esque individual who can quickly read the potential issues, move through the progressions and execute – that’s simply unrealistic. The leader must be vigilant in their oversight and delegation. Great observation!

  • http://stephenalynch.tumblr.com Stephen Lynch

    Keeping with the sports analogy, coaches can script plays that play to the strengths of their players. Giving a mobile quarterback the run/pass option gives him room to showcase natural skills and talents. Here are a couple things it does:

    1. It’s a sign that coaches trust players and want them to play to their strengths.
    2. It pushes your players to believe they are always capable of making a big play.

    If you trust your players, sometimes it’s best to give them the chance to make something happen.

    • TorConstantino

      Trust is a crucial element of any high-functioning team – you nailed it Stephen!  Trust is difficult to build and foster. It is only nurtured over time with strong bi-directional communication, integrity and relational investment.

      • http://stephenalynch.tumblr.com Stephen Lynch

        Couldn’t agree more! Great post — and thanks for using a sports analogy. I forgot how applicable they are

        • TorConstantino

          Thanks Stephen! Sports definitely provides great metaphorical illustrations for a host of topics. I’ve also found robust metaphorical examples from the military, history and being a parent of two daughters!

      • http://www.bradandlindsey.com Brad Bridges

        Agreed. Most of you have probably already read this book but Patrick Lencioni nails this same point in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” He points out that the biggest “dysfunction” is absence of trust thus underscoring the need for trust in/on any team (especially a high-functioning one).

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Tor. Thanks.

    As a coach, I think one of the best ways to shift momentum, is to shift perspective in the client’s mind.

    Asking skilful coaching questions that challenge generalisations, blind assumptions, and drive specificity – all usually work well.

    Moving to a point where we can split a belief into two, by making a more detailed distinction – is a good way to break limiting beliefs, change perspective, and release the block or resistance.

    It gives us a way forward, but it also renews our energy as we suddenly have the space to breathe, and the passion to grow..

    warmest,
    Paul.

    • TorConstantino

      Paul, I think those observations are tremendous additions to the discussion here. I especially like your point about shifting perspective.  Going back to the football analogy, that’s one of the reasons that offensive coordinators sit high above the field. 

      Their elevated view provides a fresh perspective that augments the view of the players and head coach on the field. Your points about questioning and distilling ideas down into manageable components are worthwhile as well. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://recreationalwordslinger.blogspot.com Tessa

    Great post…I really like the coaching metaphor. It’s something that I identify with. I think another thing that a coach could do is ask the players if they have any ideas. The players are the ones out there on the field, and they may have noticed that the offense or defense has certain weaknesses and want to exploit them. 

    • TorConstantino

      That’s pivotal Tessa! The leader/coach is typically focused on the execution of the larger strategic plan and may miss some of the nuanced subtleties you’re referencing. 

      In football, if a  lineman is beating a defensive tackle every down, that intel needs to bubble back up to the offensive coaching staff so they can make the appropriate adjustment, seize the opportunity and run to that side until the other team stops them. 

      Oftentimes, the best perspective on a market, game or battle comes from those that are on the front lines.

  • http://twitter.com/EspinosaJoey Joey Espinosa

    Half my life ago I played high school football. Great, great coach who turned around a program by instilling character and a team atmosphere. He did this by teaching and making us PLAN, WORK, and ENDURE, to a level where not many high school coaches were doing at a time, especially at a small school.

    http://differentway4kids.blogspot.com/2011/08/demoralizing-defeat-to-stunning-success.html

    • TorConstantino

      I like that – Plan, Work and Endure! That’s a great rallying theme for virtually any organization. Thanks for elevating the discussion with it Joey!

  • http://www.abrahamchronicles.com Dustin

    Excellent post, Tor. I appreciate your insights. I particularly like your bulleted point 5 – I think that instills a sense of “I’m right here with you.” If employees/followers see their leader “getting dirty” like they do at times, it builds a sense of loyalty. If I see my manager fighting for me… personally, that will make me want to work even harder for him/her.

    • TorConstantino

      Thanks for the kind words Dustin! That lesson is invaluable, yet it’s often the toughest one for managers to learn. Another important point that can motivate a team is the leader’s past performance. Athletes and soldiers tend to respect and respond to leaders who actually played the game or served in battle – the leaders have already been where the team is now.  That tends to resonate within a team. Thanks for adding your perspective!

  • Anonymous

    Love the Sports analogies!  Very well done and very true.  I may print this and put it in my office.  I have often used the time out/quick meeting to change Momentum.
    Thanks!

    • TorConstantino

      Douglas, I’m humbled and honored by your enthusiastic embrace of this article – thank you! Taking a time out is the simplest, but most overlooked, of each of the options I listed. Thanks again and have a great holiday weekend! 

      • http://www.bradandlindsey.com Brad Bridges

        Tor, I agree with douglasandrews about the sports analogies being right on and very helpful. I eat up pretty much any sports analogy. However, I’m curious, what non-sports metaphors/analogies would you suggest to communicate the same content? I’m simply trying to think outside the box for how to communicate this type of material for the non-sports-loving audience out there. Thanks for the help and the fantastic article.

  • http://www.wmarkthompson.com W. Mark Thompson

    Like this post, Tor. I tend to connect with the sports analogies (even though I’m not a big sports fan). Also, I really like the way you write. It’s articulate and very intelligent. Kept me engaged and following closely.

    Not that this is about a writing critique. But just thought I’d mention it. Above all, I appreciate the points that can be used in life & business.

    Hope you have a blessed weekend.

    @WMarkThompson:twitter

    • TorConstantino

      W. Mark, I really appreciate the constructive and positive feedback! I’m genuinely delighted that you found this piece to be worthwhile. Sincere thanks!

  • Jaraker

    Maybe it’s in the category of “taking one for the team” but having the character to publicly admit and own a failure has been a momentum shifter for me in ministry. Standing in front of my people and saying “I’m sorry” has brought great new life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

    • TorConstantino

      Jaraker, I applaud that courageous step you took – publicly no less – it’s simply inspiring. On a smaller scale, I’ve had a similar experience when I’ve apologized to one or both of my daughters who are ages 7 and 9 respectively for various mistakes I’ve made. There’s a humbling empowerment and sense of release that follows. Thanks for the encouragement! 

  • TorConstantino

    I just wanted to thank everyone who commented on this guest post and for being so engaged – this was really something. Special thanks to Michael Hyatt for being such a gracious host.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Tor. You did a great job in both writing the post and being engaged in the conversation. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/dennisbrooke Dennis Brooke

    One fun exercise that I put together that took advantage of
    several of these principles was to put together a one day “skunk works”
    exercise. Everyone in our professional services group had a chance to nominate
    internal improvement projects. The objective was that at the end of the day
    there would be a working prototype or framework for their project—not just a
    presentation. We mixed up the normal teams so that people would have a chance
    to get to work with new co-workers and assigned emerging leaders rather than
    the normal managers.

    At the end of the day each team made a presentation for
    projects which ranged from a Wiki to manage information for systems development
    to a project management workflow—with Best Buy gift cards for members of the
    winning team. Some of the projects served as the kernel for full-fledged
    efforts but all provided a chance to inject some fresh energy into the group.

    Tor’s momentum shifters are spot on. This is one creative
    way I used to use some.

    http://www.dennisbrooke.com

    • TorConstantino

      Dennis, your “skunk works” exercise sounds like it was truly a momentum shifter for your participating workgroups! As you know, the very idea of a momentum shift is as the heart of the “skunk works” model – high autonomy, flexibility, creativity that’s separate from the bureaucratic trappings of the larger organization yet working to complete specific projects. It seems your creative vision and implementation in this regard were very effective – kudos!

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I saw an example of “try the unexpected” last night at a high school football game. Within the first five minutes of the game, the home team looked like it would dominate. But the visitors recovered a fumble and scored then their coach chose to do the unexpected, an onside kick. By the end of the quarter, the visitors led 20 to 0, an insurmountable lead. Trying the unexpected took advantage of a shift in momentum which propelled the visiting team to a win.

    • TorConstantino

       That’s a great example TNeal! Last night I was surfing through several of the college games that were on and saw a few “gadget” plays myself that worked and a few that didn’t. The ones that failed were largely do to a missed assignment by a player, so it’s a critical imperative to ensure that such tactics are unexpected toward the competition – but practiced so much by the executing team that its normative.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        So in private, behind the scenes, it’s practice, practice, practice. In public, it’s, “Surprise!”

        From a writing perspective, it’s putting in the hours to hone your craft. The work happens every day in a corner of the world few see. Then you hit the published world with a bestseller and surprised people buzz about this new young author who is neither new nor young.

        I appreciate your bringing these thoughts to the table so we can enjoy some practical idea-laden conversations.

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          Always practicing, especially the fundamentals.  I remember playing high school football… it was always blocking, tackling, running, passing.  Those are the fundamentals.  Sometimes, you might throw in a special play, or surprise play, but it’s often those teams that execute the best on the fundamentals that do the best.

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            Seth Godin in a recent post wrote about “Talker’s Block,” a tongue in cheek title playing off of the problem that plagues writers. “Writer’s block isn’t hard to cure. Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.”

            This echoes the idea of practicing the basics over and over until you improve. It also encourages perseverance, a key quality to personal improvement, leadership, and success.

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            That’s a great concept; I’ll have to go and read Seth’s post.

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    This is a fantastic list of lessons drawn from coaching.

    I think one more to add would be to motivate players off the court. It’s easier to ensure a team keeps their head in the game when the clock is ticking, but the middle of the week at practice or while their off the clock is another challenge.

    • TorConstantino

      Good tip, ThatGuy – practice needs to be engaged with the same level of commitment and intensity as the actual game. The vast majority of the time, players and coaches can only execute in an actual game what they’ve already practiced.

  • Matt Walsh

    To change momentum, truly shift gears and stay there, you need to both throw a circuit breaker on the current situation – such that it becomes well understood that the status quo is unacceptable – and at the same time drive for a game changing achievement – like a new product – in record time.
    Teams fall into lots of habits, and pace is one of them. To shift pace, they need to learn for themselves that things can be done quicker, delivered faster, and on the way they will be forced to do more with less, make more scope decisions, and most importantly, reveal the real character of the people on the team – who is committed and capable to achieve the shift in momentum, and who isn’t.
    Then the leader needs to make the tough calls.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Matt, when you talk about pace, that can be practiced. In a coaches’ conference last spring, many of the presenters spoke about organizing practices so that the pace was brisk. At kickoff, after so many fast-paced practices, the players would feel like the game was actually slow in comparison. Many of those who spoke had the victories and championships to prove their point.

      What would that look like in the corporate world? And what is the point where the pace goes from energizing to exhausting?

      • TorConstantino

        Good insights TNeal. It’s a delicate balance between energizing vs. exhausting. As you know, one of the pitfalls that athletes and coaches have to be mindful of is NOT to over train. Pushing too hard for too long can result in injury, physical fatigue or mental burnout.

        Without speaking for Matt, I could envision a increased pace within a corporate setting that would look like: a short-term marketing promotion, incremental sales lift, higher output at a production facility or an accelerated on-boarding process for new hires.

        However, I think it’s important for the leader to monitor the organization and dial the pace back if  it becomes unsustainable.

    • TorConstantino

      Matt, I really like your thoughts about pace and the ability to change it. I’m a marathon runner, and advanced training programs for marathons usually have interval training where the pace is intentionally accelerated for a set time then dialed back at a more sustainable rate. This is repeated the duration of the practice run with the intent of improving performance, strength and productivity on race day.

  • PoulAndreassen

    The article you have presented has riddled out
    intricate structure of leadership into a simple structure. I hope other also
    understand the effectiveness of this article as well!

    • TorConstantino

       I really appreciate your kind words Poul! Thanks for the supportive commentary.

  • http://twitter.com/johnlambert John Lambert

    Half-time pep talk.  I think about the power of encouragement as a momentum shifter.  Calling people to what you know them to really be versus how they are performing at the moment.  

    • TorConstantino

      That’s a great add John! A rousing half-time pep talk can definitely re-energize a group in much the same way that a system reboot can restart a computer. Great point! 

  • Johnirvingbenson

    Mike,
    Good thoughts. I will take these to work with me when we get back from Fflorida. My work context is running an outpaitent clinic for California prison parolees. I work with a transdisciplinary mental health team, psychologist and Licensed Clinical Ssocial Workers, and me, the psychiatrist.

    Applying insights like these, almost always garnered in ‘private’ business settings, to public or governmental management mileus can be interesting, frustrating or profitable, by turns. Sadly, public administrative organiztions have very different bottom lines from healthy, results-oriented for profit ones.

    Thanks, John

    • TorConstantino

      John, thanks for the kind feedback regarding my guest post on Mike’s site! I agree that different organizations have different metrics for success, but I hope you’re able to found some applicable value here. Thanks again and safe travels!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I]m sure that is a challenge, John. I don’t have much experience in public management.

    • http://www.bradandlindsey.com Brad Bridges

      John, could you describe the different bottom line a little and how you would tweak these insights to be more relevant to your context? 

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  • http://www.goalsandachievements.co.uk/ Duncan Brodie

    How about turn things on their head.  For example, rather than thinking how to cut costs consider what you can deliver with what you have available.

    Duncan Brodie
    Goals and Achievements Ltd

    • TorConstantino

       That’s a great suggestion Duncan. From a business perspective, perhaps turning a previous “waste byproduct” from production into a standalone product – like the chicken wing. It used to be thrown away by restaurants and butchers until the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY deep friend them, then topped them with hot sauce. Needless to say they became a huge success and a new revenue stream.

  • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

    Tor – Great post!  We’re gathering some additional findings from athletics and military environments to apply to organizations pertaining to developing and sustaining peak performance for the long haul…which requires leaders to carefully manage momentum.  

    One is the idea of the “taper” borrowed from endurance sports training.  Athletes build endurance through build periods lasting 2-3 months, followed by a taper period lasting a few days to a week.  This prevents injury and mental fatigue from inevitably setting in.

    Similarly, organizations that go-go-go all the time eventually start burning out their players.  The taper serves to recover, recharge, and refocus the team.  It’s looking like a “taper” period every 90 days or so is sufficient to push ahead and take momentum to a new level.

    • TorConstantino

      Travis – that’s a tremendous observation! I run full marathons as a hobby, and every training regime I’ve ever seen stresses the need for a tapering period leading up to the actual race. To your point, it allows your body and mind to refresh and regroup for the “controlled trauma” of race day. I used to hear how boxers would overtrain, and I never knew what that meant – until I started running. Overtraining is simply a case of leaving everything on the practice field until there’s nothing left for game day. Good stuff!!!

  • Anonymous

    This is a great and applicable post. I would add to take a player off the team. Some people just don’t belong on the team. Maybe because of lack of talent, pride, or low morals. These people need to be taken out of the game/off the team so the other members can succeed.  

    • TorConstantino

      Great point Dan – sometimes individuals can be such a distraction because of  their off-field antics that it may become necessary to remove them from the team for the betterment of the group.

  • Tamara Vann

    Great piece! Even middle managers can arise as serious leaders. As this video suggests, mid-line leaders can make or break a company’s service record. Good leaders understand those game changing moves. Here’s the video: http://www.upyourservice.com/video-theater/your-middle-managers-can-make-or-break-a-superior-service-culture

    • TorConstantino

      Thanks Tamara – that’s a great point about the role that middle managers play. Extending it to football, middle managers might equate to specialty coaches or offensive/defensive coordinators. They may see an adjustment that needs to be made before the top exec., and it’s their responsibility to bubble up that insight. Thanks again and interesting video too!

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  • Dingheng0932

    Carefully read it again, well worth reading! I will continue to pay attention!
    http://www.christianlouboutin-cheapest.org/

  • Mikka Labaguis

    This is indeed an eye opener.  Leaders must learn how to make the call and eventually take accountability in risk taking.  I have had my own personal experience of these things when I started with a new team upon joining a new company.  I didn’t realized how impactful these things are until I read this.  Thanks.

    • TorConstantino

      Accountability is indeed a crucial part of the momentum-shifting mix. I’m glad you found this essay useful Mikka.

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    I love the sports analogy!

    • TorConstantino

      Thanks for the kind words Robert!

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  • http://twitter.com/thegospelwriter Wanza Leftwich, TGW

    “…sometimes the quickest way to victory is by setting aside conventional wisdom in favor of a novel, game-changing solution” This is so true. When you’re in a rut, you can afford to lose or die – something has to change. Trying a new strategy can be risky but there is so much reward when it works out well.

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