Avoiding Complacency

The Pittsburgh Penguins trailed the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 in the first period of an NHL hockey game this week. Things did not look good for the Pens. But they kept working hard, tied the game at 4-4 by the end of the second period, and then scored in the third to win 5-4. Following the game, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby talked about the comeback. He mentioned that he thought the Flyers got out to that early lead and then relaxed a bit. He said it was human nature to get comfortable and relax when you dominate the game early like the Flyers did.

We see many examples in sports of teams that seem to be dominating an opponent and then the tide turns and the opponent manages to come back and make the game close, or even win. I think in many of these cases, Crosby is correct and teams get comfortable; they get complacent and allow the opponent to climb back in the game. It is human nature to relax when we aren’t being challenged.

Does this happen in your organization? When things are going well and you are achieving your goals and having success, does your team relax and let complacency set in? As leaders, it’s up to us to keep our teams disciplined and focused. When things are “clicking,” we need to challenge our teams to reach even greater heights and to find new opportunities.

I’m sure this explains the coaching tactics of Nick Saban (Head Coach of University of Alabama football) when his team is winning. I am amazed at how he seems more intense, frustrated, and demanding when his team is winning big. He puts more pressure on his team when they are winning than when they are losing. And the bigger the lead, the more intense he gets. I now see that this is to keep his team from relaxing and getting complacent.

It’s a great feeling when our organizations are achieving our goals. It’s human nature to relax and enjoy this success. (And I am a big fan of celebrating our successes.) But sustainable success comes from constantly pushing forward, reaching for more, and challenging our teams to be even better. I hope you and your team enjoy great success. But I also want you to think now about how you will continue to challenge your team when you go through these periods of great accomplishment.

Thanks for reading,
Jim

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