Making YOUR Mark

Reflections on the recent AFL docuseries ‘Making their mark’ by Jodie Williams:

Making Their Mark, Amazon’s new seven-part AFL documentary is compelling viewing. I have been watching it with a footy-mad teenage son and this fly-on-the-wall perspective has changed the way I think and feel about the game.

Without any doubt, the Australian Football League and the teams within it are businesses. Last year was like nothing the sport had ever seen before and what I would like to share with you is not my review of the docuseries, instead, my three takeaways which are useful in any business setting.

1. The first is the value of a Strengths-Based Approach to communication and engagement.

A strengths-based approach seeks to highlight an individual’s (or group’s) best attributes, to help them recognise and believe the valuable contribution they make when working towards a goal. We see Adam Simpson (West Coast Eagles), Damien Hardwick (Richmond Tigers) and Stuart Dew (Gold Coast Suns) use such an approach time and time again in Making Their Mark. Even from my couch, I felt engaged by the noticeable impact they were having on their players. We see the same positive outcomes with teams who also use a strengths-based approach in a corporate setting.

2. Having the ability to clearly articulate what ‘good’ looks like

Now, ‘good’ could either be the Grand Final or a micro goal. Micro goals help build momentum and can provide more regular opportunities for strengths-based feedback, which in turn engenders a positive mindset for the next or bigger measure of ‘good’. But if no-one knows what the micro goal is, or if people in your team are distracted by self-doubt, how can they fully hear or see what needs to be done every step of the way to get to their goal? Responsibility for this comes back to the leader, and leaders at all layers, to consistently and repeatedly communicate what ‘good’ looks like in ways that team members understand and connect to.

3. Understanding your own communication impact

Do you seek feedback about your communication efforts and whether or not they are effective? Research tells us that individuals learn in 3 different ways:- Visual (seeing, observing and reading), Auditory (listening and communicating) and Tactile (physical).

There is no doubt that the professional sporting teams are interacting and engaging with players on each of these levels in Making Their Mark. When asked about creating clarity in a recent interview with Red Emu Advisory, Sarah Duffy, Global Lead Transformation at Bluescope said “The first thing to recognise is that creating clarity is not just my responsibility. It’s distributed. People look to their own leaders and others who they trust. Over the years, I have learnt that just sending leaders a slide pack with key messages does not work…!”.

Our advice is always to test, ask questions and really listen to the feedback you receive. Once you have your messaging in place for any situation or goal, first ask yourself the question – will the audience walk away knowing WHAT everyone is working towards, WHY, and HOW they contribute towards ‘good’ or the ultimate goal? Then ask team members from the frontline and support lines. At this point, refresh your messaging or style, and communicate again.

To sum up, my thoughts today focus on a strengths-based approach to engagement, the benefit of clearly communicating what ‘good’ looks like, and the importance of regular, consistent and varied communication efforts.

At a high level, Making Their Mark is a visual case study in leadership at different levels within a business. As leaders, your words are only as good as their ability to engage, inspire and motivate. At some point in the future, you may move on to a new opportunity. In the meantime, what can you do to make YOUR positive mark now, and how do you want to be remembered in the future?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Head on over to my LinkedIn page to share a comment on this post.