Top players don’t play to compete. They play to win at every level. If you go to any Premier League training ground and observe the training session, you may be amazed at how competitive the games are. Players playing against THEIR OWN TEAMMATES, giving everything they have got to win what may seem like just a meaningless training game or exercise and being genuinely gutted if they lose said game. Why? Because they are keeping score.
Let me repeat that sentence but highlighting one word: Because THEY are keeping score. Players play differently when they know what the score is at all times and are playing to win because of that. It drives them. They are playing at this level due to the innate internal drive to succeed within them, fueled by the score and the competition. This is one of the rules that creates the discipline of “Playing to Win.”
According to the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution, the four characteristics that each successful team should demonstrate are:
- They know the goal.
- They know what to do to achieve the goal.
- They know the score at all times.
- They hold themselves accountable regularly and frequently for the results.
We see this in every professional team.
- Each team knows the goal for the season. They know the goal for that particular game, and each player knows their goal individually for each game or set piece.
- Process, process, process. Great teams and great players don’t go into each training session thinking, “Are we going to win the Champions League this week? Are we going to win the Premier League this week?” They go into the training session thinking about THAT training session. They measure and focus on the process rather than the goal. They have key measures that, when done consistently, RESULT in the success of the long-term goal. They know when you add up all those focused training sessions, all those good nutritional choices and social sacrifices, the compound result of all these small processes, success follows.
- The Premier League table is in front of every player, coach and fans at all times. You can’t hide from it. Pretty much every stadium has an enormous scoreboard during the game showing the current score and the time remaining to change it. They are keeping score, and they are driven by it.
- Players are in the public eye so much that they are accountable at all times. They are interviewed by the press constantly and are held accountable by their peers every day. If they have been out on a Friday night before a big game on Saturday and fail to perform, their teammates let them know about it and how much they have let the team down. There is no stronger drive than the thought of letting the team down. With social media and hundreds of thousands of followers, sometimes millions, they can be held accountable in a matter of seconds, directly from fans at any time of the day or night. Accountability is key – regularly and frequently.
So, what can we learn from these professional teams and the game itself to implement into our daily lives and our businesses at any level, from the entry-level worker to the CEO?
- Know the goal. Setting goals is such an important part of business and life. We need a target to aim for personally and professionally. We need team goals as well as individual goals. Individual goals make us move in the right direction, but team goals create a powerful force greater than the sum of its parts if they are all acting toward the success of the main goal.
- Focus on the process. If the goal is the destination, then the process is the GPS to get us there. We need to figure out what we need to do to achieve the goal and then do it. Sounds simple, right? But this is the step where most people fall down. When the goal is such a distance away and progress seems slow, they change things up, move away from the process, and try the quick fix. Trust the process and focus on the process. Want to increase your bonus by $10,000 this year? Don’t focus on the $10,000. You know that each new sale gives you a $1,000 bonus. You know that making 10 new calls per day gives you 1 hot lead, and out of the 20 hot leads in a month, you always close one. That’s your process, making 10 new calls per day. You can measure that. You have control of that. You can win that game daily. Focus on THAT.
- Know the score at all times. In the above example, you could probably guess how many new calls you have made every day. But if you have a scoreboard and you KNOW, there is no way you are leaving the office that day having only made nine calls. You know the score, and you know it’s 10 that will bring results. Even if everyone else is leaving for happy hour, you are staying five minutes extra to make that final call. It’s the same for your team. Having a scoreboard so that your PEERS know you have only made nine calls toward the team goal is a powerful motivation tool to get every last call done. Not only knowing that you are letting your friends down but also knowing that you are going to be held accountable, as described in the next rule:
- Accountability. Having an office scoreboard is one thing. But another is that each week you are going to be reviewing it as a team and going through everyone’s process measurements to make sure you are doing what you agreed to do. You are going to be in the limelight, just as players are with the fans at the end of the game when the weekly result is final and you are judged by your performance that week. If your workload on the pitch isn’t what it should be, then the fans will let you know about it. If you are not pulling your weight as part of the team and are constantly falling short of your process, which in turn brings the team’s results down, then your teammates and co-workers will (and should) let you know about it.