Keep watching the sports on TV; keep going to those matches every weekend; explain to your spouse that it’s work. If the match is live down the pub it’s networking. Here, in the company of one of football’s most successful managers, Tyrone’s Mickey Harte, we take a look at what businesses can learn from the sporting world.
Whether its sports or business, it’s a ‘people’ world, and its the relationships between people that make things better or worse. The challenge, therefore, is to create an environment on the playing pitch, or in the workplace, where people are comfortable with each other, where they work with each other and for each other”, says Mickey. Noted for managing a team that go the extra mile for each other and for being a pioneer of ‘total football’ where players surge up and down the pitch irrespective of positions, Harte believes that people should not be restricted – either on the pitch or in the office.
“For sustainable success people must be encouraged to do more and ask of themselves: How can I help? What more can I give? It’s not about: ‘This is my position and as long as I’m doing it ok then isn’t that good enough?’ This is limiting for the individual and for the company or team that this individual is part of.” Harte explains: “As mentioned, even if some of us are doing our job very well, we may be limiting ourselves and our team. We must try and open our minds to new possibilities and new learning, developing the attitude: ‘I can do what I do well, but I may also be able to connect with other parts of the business and contribute more’.” He continues: “It’s all about the team and knowing that if I can do my very best for the team and encourage those around me to do the same, our hard work will be rewarded. It’s the same in business and creating an encouraging environment where people are valued. This will extend to having values which ask: What more can I do for my colleagues, my team and my customers?
” Is there a ‘key learning’ for an encouraging environment? “Positive attitude”, says Mickey. “A positive attitude is contagious. If everybody, and especially leaders, approach the current environment with a positive, upbeat attitude, then that enthusiasm will transfer to other team members, making for a more comfortable and productive environment all round.”
“We have to work at being positive, play to our strengths, work together and help each other. By doing this we will come out a stronger and better nation”
Mickey also points out that having a healthy rapport with colleagues and team members and acknowledging good work can also act as a catalyst for even greater productivity. He says: “People prefer praise to almost any other type of reward, they like to be recognised for the effort that they’re putting in, and it is important to remember that in these price sensitive times, praise is free.” Mickey expands on the importance of communication: “Building rapport is central to creating positive relationships within any group, team or organisation. To get 30 men working together as one, you need to create a positive environment. The same is as valid for an SME of 5 people as it is for an organisation of 5,000 people. We need to check our tendency for the need to always be right, and work on our capacity to connect. People in organisations’ need to feel valued by affording them sincere appreciation when appropriate, not mere lip service. “This is especially true for individuals who make those valuable ‘assists’ which often go unnoticed, yet without which the end product wouldn’t happen.” Finally, we wondered if the principles talked about here can be applied to the country as it tries to deal with recession and troubled times. “We have to be positive”, says Mickey.
“In fact we have to work at being positive, play to our strengths, work together and help each other. By doing this we will come out a stronger and better nation. For example, there are GAA counties out there that haven’t performed over the past number of years. But I can guarantee you that they’re dreaming about success and are putting in the work on the ground; developing the grass roots, working with clubs, identifying and working with talented players, improving facilities…preparing for future success because they believe it will come. The country needs to do the same”. Mickey Harte is the current and most successful manager of the Tyrone senior football team. So far he has led them to three All Irelands, three Ulster titles, one National League, and four Dr. McKenna Cups. Before he became the senior manager he managed Tyrone Minors (1991-1998) and Under 21’s . He guided the Under 21s to two All-Ireland and three Ulster Under 21 titles. He led the Minors to an All-Ireland Minor title and three Ulster Minor titles. He’s also managed his home club of Errigal Ciarán and was successful with this team as well, winning the Tyrone County Championship and Ulster Championship. Mickey also works as an associate trainer with Innovo Training and Development delivering leadership programmes that make a real and lasting contribution to the success of an organisation.