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How Champion Leaders Respond During Times of Opposition

An offensive posture is critical if you want to win during this unpredictable climate.

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When does a plan go exactly as planned? Usually never. What do we do when a plan fails? We adapt. We adjust. We find another way.

That is what champions do—they always find another way when resistance presents itself.

Over the past few months we have been exposed to coronavirus, lay-offs and furloughing, protests, racial tension, and everything in between.

What do we do? We adapt. We adjust. We find another way.

We as leaders get hyper-focused on what we committed to as individuals and as teams as we greeted this new decade with open arms and vigor in early January.

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Having spent my entire career working with the highest-performing athletes in the world, I always told my players: What you focus on you get more of.

What are you focused on: the opportunity of these times or the opposition?

When you make the decision to work through the situations you face by leaning in with passion and excitement for a challenge, rather than finding yourself on your heels, you begin playing offense.

An offensive posture is critical if you want to win during this unpredictable climate. Playing offense is a mindset, an attitude and an approach that allows you to maintain a commitment to a forward direction and a fruitful future.

When you play offense, you become unstoppable.

As I coach business leaders, I always encourage them to coach themselves through situations by using assertive, positive, forward-focused language, rather than listening to themselves which could lead to greater levels of doubt, fear, hesitation and unfavorable swirls of anxiety.

When we are constantly coaching ourselves, we become our biggest cheerleader.

We approach each situation with an attitude and mindset that says, “Give me the ball. I want to take the final shot.”

This is a very different state than playing defense, which says, “I don’t want to ball. I have no chance of winning this game for us.”

What great leaders do is they look at what is happening around them with a deep belief in themselves, their capabilities and their overall ability to build a team and keep that team excited and encouraged.

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In times of resistance, great leaders dig in. They take the time to learn about their team members at a deeper level. They take the time to send that personal email, text message, or they even pick up the phone to let their people know, “I am here for you.”

Great leaders understand that their people can get into a defensive posture very quickly, oftentimes much faster than the leader themselves.

Taking the time to redirect, refocus, and reestablish with each team member their role and importance on the team becomes that much more prudent during times of uncertainty.

If you are looking to take your team to the next level, these four steps to becoming a champion leader can help you thrive and move your organization into an offensive posture:

  • Encourage your team with a Monday morning huddle to set the tone and energy expectation for the week.
  • Strengthen your team’s mindset by finding stories of hope and inspiration that can be sent via email or workplace messaging tools.
  • Collaborate with your team by having a new member of the team run the Monday morning huddle or by having each member of the team contribute to the stories of hope and inspiration each week, maybe even sharing some of their own personal triumphs.
  • Challenge your team by asking them each week to send in a stretch goal for themselves as individuals and for their team. This will keep not only the team stretching for more and working collaboratively, but the individuals that make up the team will also be stretching for personal greatness as well.

Be encouraged by the opportunity to build, grow, connect and challenge yourself and your teams during this time. For the first time, we have time.

Let’s make sure we use that time to focus on the opportunities that sit in front of us by playing offense on our mission, vision, and goals. The time for victory is right now.

Coach Dana Cavalea is a high performance & executive leadership coach. He is the former director of performance for the New York Yankees. Coach Dana led the New York Yankees to a World Championship in 2009. You can visit his official website at danacavalea.com.

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