Coaching Lessons from London 2012

What’s behind Team GB’s phenomenal success at London 2012?

There’s the immense strategic planning programme and substantial funding that’s boosted British sport since winning the bid. Then there’s the adoring home crowd cheering the athletes on. Mostly, though, it’s down to the determination and sheer hard work of the talented athletes themselves. But how is this harnessed to win Olympic medals? That’s down to the guidance of the athletes’ coaches who help them achieve their goals.

After his victory, two times gold medal winner, Mo Farah, paid tribute to his coach, Alberto Salazar, for his “brilliant tactical nous” and, according to the Sunday Times, Salazar is widely credited with helping Farah make the step-change from a European champion to a world-class athlete. Boxer, Nicola Adams, thanked her coach of 12 years, Alwyn Belcher, who, on the day, simply encouraged Nicola to go out there and enjoy herself. She did, and she became the first female boxing Olympic gold medalist. Many more athletes praised their coaches and credited them with their successes.

Coaching is about helping people achieve their full potential. The coach challenges the athlete, enables him to improve his skills, helps him plan strategically, and inspires him to strengthen his mindset. As a manager, your role includes coaching your team to improve their performance at work and to achieve their goals. You can help them “win gold” by using a straightforward coaching technique known as GROW: Goal – Reality – Options – Will.

  • Goal – athletes set a clear goal; they know what they want to achieve and how to measure their success. Help your employee do the same by challenging the clarity of the goal. Is it specific? Is it measurable? Is it realistic?
  • Reality – athletes critically analyse their performance to help them improve. Help your employee examine their own reality. What is the current situation? What are the barriers? What are their fears? What are their limitations?
  • Options – athletes explore what is possible and prepare a detailed plan to achieve their goal. Inspire your employee to explore their own possibilities. Encourage their ideas. Discuss their options. Test their fears and challenge their limitations.
  • Will – athletes spend a lot of time preparing mentally. They maintain their motivation and self-discipline by knowing why they are doing it and keeping their eye on their goal. Help your employee explore their own motivation and will to achieve. Reminding them why they are doing it will focus their pursuit of their goal.