Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Greatest Pre-Game Speech

Over at the HR Capitalist Kris Dunn defines employee engagement as, "Discretionary effort that you don't have to threaten someone to get."  The definition is about as good as it gets, but any discussion about talent and performance reminds me of sports.  In sports you get engagement and discretionary effort most often from leaders.  The most visible form of leadership in sports is the pre/post game speech.  Below is a short clip from the Georgia Tech football program.  It's a wonderful example of a great pre-game speech.  Check it out:

Several things stand out from the video.  Here are some powerful statements from Derrick Moore and the meaning behind the words.

"There's no game in the world like it.  No where!  And you get the opportunity every week to line up and play.  And more special than any (other) week, you get a chance to line up for a title."

Football is a unique sport because so much revolves around collision and physicality.  It's also unique because there are so many players on the field per play, therefore one player's effort is not as significant.  The punishment you give and take for your team can be emotional.  Derrick is establishing how special their sports is, how fortunate the players are to be playing the sport, and how significant it is to be playing for a title. 

"Go out Saturday and break their will.  Bring them to a point where they don't want to play no more.  To where they get tired of lining it up and start packing it in.  It means taking their manhood from 'em."

Football is a collision contact sport, even more so away from the ball.  Punishing, physical and tough teams usually succeed.  Derrick is gaining a commitment from the team to be the aggressor and dish out the punishment.  In football, the teams that establish their strength and impose their will first typically provide momentum and energy for their teams.  It can also demoralize the opposing team. 

"We've been talking about the sledge hammer all week.  Football is a game of personality.  This game today is about personality.  If we decide to bring the personality of a sledge hammer.  You know what the bottom line is?  Anything it hits it destroys.  I don't care what it is."

Success in football doesn't just come from playbooks, strategy and talent.  It comes from having an aggressive and dominating personality.  Aside from quarterback, football is not a game of composure, it's a game of intensity and aggression.

So you want employee engagement and discretionary effort at your company?  Follow Derrick's road map.  Leaders who can establish a sense of meaning and importance for what your workers do everyday is the first step.  Next, describe what success and failure look like.  Physically dominating your opponents until they want to quit would be considered success.  Finally, create a sense of how employees efforts are a reflection of them personally.  Create a personality, visible to everyone, that defines success and failure.

Nice job Derrick.  That almost made me want to put on the old shoulder pads.

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