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Rehearsing Success

Ever wondered why: Performance Management doesn’t deliver; strategic change fails to deliver; important conversations fail; old ways are constantly reverted to?

We would argue that fundamentally it is because of a lack of practice and rehearsal. Of course, what usually happens with these failures is senior managers bemoan a lack of talent; two-time Olympian and sports writer and broadcaster Matthew Syed, would argue that this is a dangerous and costly mis-assumption.

His bestseller Bounce offers an interesting argument about talent and success in sport which seems very relevant to people in organisations.  His thesis, which mirrors something we have been arguing for years, is that ‘talent’ is not the key determinant of success; practice and rehearsal is. To build a robust management team who are equipped to effectively and proactively manage risk and growth, they need to be able to effectively collaborate and influence across a network of peers, not just manage a team.  Employees need to be empowered to accelerate change in their business and the best way to ensure that the workforce is achieving optimum performance is to allow the opportunity to rehearse and this is where the Advance Programme* comes in.

Businesses need to accept the absolute necessity of investing in building, through practice and rehearsal, the internalised mental mechanisms that lead to confident high performance and achieve a faster way of implementing sustainable change.

Matthew Syed highlights the work of Anders Ericsson, which indicated that the only difference in a musical conservatoire between those who made it as outstanding international soloists, those who secured work in major orchestras and those who became music teachers, was the amount of practice over a life-time that a particular musician had done. The challenge is therefore to build into the life of managers and leaders (and in fact all employees) rehearsal and practice as a real and relevant part of their work life, resulting in a “leadership community” capable of leading your business to organic growth and a position of market leader.

 * FYI - the ‘Advance’ leadership development programme from Apter Development focuses on providing sophisticated behavioural rehearsals to establish a sustainable shift in management performance.  

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