Inspirational Evening – “Winning Leadership – it’s a game of inches” – Humphrey Walters

Last week I had an email from my crew, Nicki, asking if I was interested in coming along to a talk that she was involved in the running of for her work – I read the following information:

“Humphrey Walters is at the forefront of leadership and management development. As a successful CEO (for 35 years) he knows what it is like to be at the very top and stay there. He is a prolific writer authoring a number of books examining human and organisational performance. He also works at the very top levels of international sport across a variety of disciplines. This body of work led Humphrey to research the essential winning behaviours required to succeed at senior international level sport. He has successfully applied the winning behaviours in the business world with the concept of ‘The Business of Winning’. During this talk Humphrey will share his considerable insight and experience around building and leading winning teams using the backdrop of the England Rugby world cup winning side, Premier League football, Formula One motor racing and the Olympics. Humphrey makes sense of the lessons to be learned from sport to enable business success.” and thought I most certainly was.  Nicki also said I could forward to others that may be interested so last night a colleague and myself went along to an event organised by the University of Aberdeen Executive Education Partnership where Humphrey Walters gave a presentation titled “Winning in a tough environment/ Winning Leadership – it’s a game of inches – 100 things 1% better”.

I came away smiling, with plenty of food for thought – both from a personal perspective in competing in endurance but also from a personal point of view for career development and for interview preparation, and from a professional point of view in the work environment.

Below are the bits that grasped me most (with some added thoughts alongside some):

  • ‘Never forget those who gave you the idea’
  • Break things down into small pieces (this links back too to the Endurance GB ‘Road to Montreal 2018’ International Seminar that I attended a few weeks back where Yogi Breisner was speaking and mentioned Tiny Tangible Tickable Targets – also a World Class Performance Manager)
  • Ruthless simplicity becomes an obsession
  • “Winners don’t do different things – they just do things differently”
  • They are constantly looking for little changes to make that could just give them the edge (I can relate to this – I find a huge part of endurance is constant trouble shooting, making minute alterations just to make things a little bit better – then all those little things collectively add up to a big improvement over time).
  • It’s not about being taught but about learning
  • GOOB – Good Out Of Bad – you should always look to take something away
  • You can actually perform better than you think you can – physically and mentally
  • Start with the end result you want and work backwards, talking in past tense about what you would have done to get there – look at the list – can you do those things individually?
  • ‘Think in ink’ – Write it down – make it real
  • Never leave the game early
  • Fight for success – why can’t it be you?
  • Fatigue makes cowards of us all
  • Train as though you are Number 2, not Number 1 (always strive to improve in order to remain at the top)
  • Mental alertness is essential to success
  • “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
  • There are essential ingredients of Winning Teams – The Economics of Trust – if trust is low, the speed and outcomes are low and costs high – and vice versa (I relate this hugely to endurance and the behind the scenes team and the team at the forefront – I trust them all to play their part – they know their jobs and get on with it and I trust them to do their best for me and the horses)
  • Handling Issues – give issues numbers – 1&2 you don’t need to know – I’ll fix it (Francis/Catriona/Mum & Dad did this very thing in Exmoor in 1999 and Carola and Joan did at Burgie in 2010 – both car incidents – there was no need for me to know what was going on – they had it under control); 3 – You need to know but this is what I am going to do; 4 – I need to tell you and this is what I propose to do.; 5 – I need your help as I don’t know what to do. By giving numbers and them being allocated it also allows clearer communication on emails etc as to the importance of it.
  • Put something in your dash (this relates to a dash on grave stone – all the stuff in-between being born and dying) – I really like this and think I might use it on Monday…
  • Getting better never stops
  • Pride in the Badge
  • If you want to travel fast go alone; If you want to travel far go together (again this one really makes me smile)
  • “We are going to make it!” – concentrate on what you can control; look after each other; Never ever take the eye off the ocean; Focus on what is possible – look for the gap in the wave.
  • It is serious up on top but fun down below – be serious when it is needed and have fun at the other times – this is required for success!
  • It is not about predictability – it is about Finding the Inches

These talks are so inspiring; some it makes me realise more about myself – perhaps why some things have worked out for me, why I see the detail in work matters that I want to improve but that others may miss or deem of less importance, why I constantly look for little things in many manners of life to be changing and altering. So for me I find these not only of interest to take on board, but as a way of understanding myself and why I perhaps operate how I do, why I do things differently and why I need to accept that is a good thing!

I feel very humbled to have started my year with two amazing inspiring talks by World Class Performance Managers.

Thank you Nicki for inviting me along – I have a good feeling that great things may come as a result of this (and not only in Endurance/Sporting terms) – watch this space!

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