Practicing Leadership

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Charley is an athlete. A football scholarship helped him get his degree at a small school. Today, in the first years of his career, his football experience still influences the way he thinks.

Football taught him to work hard at getting better. So he spends a little time every night reviewing his day and making notes about things he wants to do. He says that it’s like watching game film.

Football practices and scrimmages helped him develop his game. He was looking for something like that in management. That’s why he called me.

“Do you know any way that I can practice situations with team members?” he asked me. “In football we practiced a lot and it helped us play better, but I can’t see any way to practice being a boss.”

It’s a great question. Role playing usually isn’t very helpful. The emotional component of a real situation is usually not there. And there’s really nothing at stake. But there is a way to practice your leadership behaviors.

Practice in your mind. Let’s say you’ve got a conversation coming up with a team member about their performance. Practice it in your mind.

Imagine what you’ll say and how the other person will respond and what you’ll do next. Do this over and over. Ask yourself “What if …?” then figure it out.

Charley liked that. It seemed to him like preparing to play another team in football. He also likes the fact that he can imagine himself succeeding and build his confidence while develops his skill.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Mental rehearsal is a technique that great bosses use to improve their performance.

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