Shane Watson on why leaders should not amplify pressure on their teams
“Sometimes you surprise yourself with what you do under pressure.”- Chris Bosh
And not only yourselves but at times a superlative performance under pressure can surprise millions. This was what was exemplified by former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson yesterday, whose 117 not-out score helped Chennai Super Kings clinch their third Indian Premier League (IPL) title.
Watson’s whirl winding match-winning knock started well after 10 balls in the match, which set hearts aflutter if he was going to deliver today. But the 36-year-old Watson like a real performer did not crack under the weight of a few missed balls and stood his ground to tear away at Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling order with his brutal strokes, demonstrating that it’s not speed alone but consistency which makes for a better performance.
In an earlier exclusive interaction with People Matters, Shane spoke about his mantras of being a good leader, of standing unwavered in the face of setbacks and how one should always give oneself the best chance to succeed.
As a leader, don’t amplify pressures for your team
Throwing light on his leadership journey, Shane revealed he evolved as a leader over time.
For me, my leadership development took time. It was not a natural thing. From when I started to now, I am a much better leader now. A lot of that has come around from observing the best leaders I have been with and seeing how they get the best of people around them.
He stated that one of the things that has really stood out and is very important to him is to make sure he unloads the pressure of all the players. He says,
It is obvious to everyone how important is to perform in every game for their career. As a leader, it's important you are not amplifying any of those pressures whatsoever.
Delving further into his leadership philosophy, Shane says leadership is about understanding individuals and how they react and how do you get the best out of them. So while some players need to be left alone to figure their way out, some players would require more direction. It is really about understanding what gets the best out of every individual as everyone is very different. There is no one set template to treat every single person, it’s more intuitive.
Additionally, it’s about getting to know how they operate under pressure as it’s under pressure that different aspects of people’s personalities come out.
Giving yourself the best chance
Touching upon the topic of performance, Shane revealed how it’s important to be focused on the process rather than the results in order to perform well. He says,
The one thing that I know intimately is that it comes down to 90% of you mind being focused on the ‘here and now.' Not thinking about the final results but all about what I need to do right now. That’s applicable for a sportsperson in the heat of the game or a business person alike. That is giving yourself the best chance. And in anything you do in your life, you have to give yourself the best chance.
If one is focused on the process, over time, the results will take care of themselves. The trick is to understand one’s best performance and model it to consistently perform well.
Unload your mind
Shane’s leadership journey has had its own moments of truth and awakening. And one such moment for him was when he was captain of the Rajasthan Royals team in IPL. He says,
When I was captain of the Rajasthan Royals, because I was always mentally on because of preparation for the game and the tactics and captaining, I just burnt myself out. The brain is a muscle and if you fatigue it, it is not going to function and the decision making is not going to be as decisive. I really needed to unload my mind at certain times.
And that led him to the other moment of truth of trusting his instincts. For him, that meant understanding that all the experience he has is deep down inside his mind. And he does not have to overthink to access it. He has to follow his gut feel or allow those experiences to come up. Watson revealed that how he does is by letting a song in play in his head and not overthinking it and trusting completely whatever he feels at that time.
Let the drive to excel drive away the setbacks
Setbacks are a part and parcel of one’s life and so have they been of Watson’s life. But he has always used his strong desire to excel to get over the setbacks. He says,
I want to be the best I can be in whatever I do. I put my mind to cricket and I always wanted to be the best cricketer I could be. That has always been the driving force for me. Life is not a fairy tale, and I have realized quickly that it has its ups and downs. There are going to be roadblocks on the way and you have to navigate your way around them.
Watson added that his desire to excel has always been very strong. Despite the setbacks he has had in the form of injuries or from a performance point of view which have challenged his desire to excel, it has never wavered.
"I have never allowed setbacks to get in the way of my desire. And it has moved with me in the next part of my life-whether it’s being the best dad I can possibly be or being the best husband I can be and now from a business point of view of my performance management company, I want to be the best I can be," he adds.
Never look back
Throwing light on what has been an inspiration to him, Shane revealed that it is a lesson about not having regrets in life. He says,
When I was 15 and wondering whether I should pick up rugby or cricket which I was more naturally gifted at, a teacher in school told me ‘to have no regrets in life.’ It’s a mantra I have always lived by which is more like a way of seeing opportunities and making the most of them and not actually looking back at life or at what it might have been.
He concludes that he believes in taking opportunities as they come and even if they don’t go well, he looks upon them as yet another learning experience.
Shane Watson is also one of the keynote speakers at TechHR 2018 brought to People Matters by Right Selection. In his session, he will dwell on how technology has been a catalyst in his success and "How teams are leveraging technology to up their game strategy". Click here to register.