David Meerman Scott, one of people I look up to professionally, said to think about social media as a big cocktail party, where you float from one conversation to another. I’d add that for many of us, what you pick up from those conversations shapes your world view in ways that weren’t possible 10 years ago.
Case in point: I was riding the bus to work a few weeks ago, and as I’m into philosophy, I posted a quote on Twitter that I thought was insightful. That was RT’d by some people, including someone named @CoachMallett. We exchanged some tweets, and turns out he’s Ryan Mallett, a U.S. Olympic weightlifting coach and official from Piscataway, N.J., working primarily at the beginner level, i.e., teenagers.
That conversation went to email, because I wanted to know more about the parallels between the mental toughness needed in weightlifting vs. working in business, and how that translates to team leadership and ultimately building a brand. Here’s what he told me:
Q: How does someone in business maintain their mental edge, even under the pressure of making decisions that will affect how a brand is perceived on a large scale – even globally?
A: Without mental toughness, your success is limited in anything you do. You have to be willing to put in a lot of time and hard work, no matter the positive or negative outcomes, and continue to press on while ignoring uncertainty.
Q: What are the most effective ways to lead a team? How do you get a team to embrace your vision?
A: Leading a team, in business or athletics, is like leading a symphony. You have many different instruments that have to perform in concert, directed by a leader everyone syncs with and respects. As a leader, I think it’s necessary to understand each individual aspect of your team and see what value they bring on an individual level, and then how that can best serve the team. Understanding weaknesses is just as important as understanding strengths. So in leading, you have to understand the demands of the job – or sport – as a whole, and then each position, and in regard to whom you have in those positions and what they bring individually. Are they right for that position, or can they be of better help to the team elsewhere? In Olympic weightlifting, you are part of a team, and you are also are an individual looking for personal bests or records, and that helps your team overall.
Q: Is it fair to say you’re helping build the future brand of U.S. Olympic Weightlifting and future leaders?
A: I would say that’s correct. Every athlete that we can get turned on to even using Olympic lifts, regardless of their current sport, is an opportunity to expose them to Olympic weightlifting. In fact, a lot of other sports use these lifts in their weight training programs. Sports, in general, are very important for the development of our youth to learn discipline, teamwork, camaraderie, focus, skill building, responsibility, respect and good sportsmanship. All these translate to life outside of athletics, which is why teaching youth good habits and behaviors are so important.
With guys like Coach Mallett influencing our kids and shaping their values, I have to feel good about the future of leadership in business, not to mention U.S. Olympic weightlifting.
And one more thing: That’s a lot of rich insight from Coach Mallett; he influenced me, and now you through this blog. None of that would have been possible without engagement through social media.