Friday, December 9, 2022
Whoever wins the football World Cup in Qatar later this month (alas, not Wales) will have the hardest job winning it in North America in 2026. You may think it’s better to be the holders going into another four-year cycle, buoyed by the confidence of victory, but it’s so difficult to stay at the top of the world game. Age and form are two obstacles to overcome, while every other nation is trying that bit harder to overthrow the previous winners. Those other nations might also be reaching the pinnacle of their powers with a certain group of players peaking at the same time. We’ve all heard about golden generations.
It’s so difficult to retain the World Cup that only two nations—Brazil and Italy—have ever done it and the last time it happened was in 1962.
It’s a similar story in business. Nobody presents a Jules Rimet Trophy every four years in the lifting and rigging industry, but it’s a ferociously competitive market and many companies are trying to reach the top. And the more success a business has, the bigger the challenge is to match and exceed those achievements the following day, week, month, quarter, and year.
Where business is at an advantage, however, is that there are no semi-finals and finals to mark an end point. The game keeps going. You can keep scoring goals and the players have much longer careers. Yes, defeat is equally hard to handle, but there’s always another opportunity just around the corner. It isn’t a knock-out format, generally. You’ve never won, but you can keep winning. And only with that mentality can long-term success be achieved, as all companies in endless growth mode prove.
Timing the jump
One thing a firm and its leaders must be good at is recognising and weighing-up scale. The digital age has levelled the playing field in terms of the buying decision makers a business can access. It’s no longer the case that C-suites are off limits to smaller companies, because today they can pitch and market in the online spaces where these professionals go for information. But it’s still necessary to go after the right size and type of work.
I’ll explain: a start-up company with a small stock of 1t capacity slings, would be wise not to go hunting elephants in the form of blue-chip construction consortiums. Even if they were lucky enough to get a contract, they wouldn’t be able to deliver. That’s common sense. What is harder to understand, is when to start moving up the scale. The rules of the game are the same: to generate revenue from companies at a healthy profit margin, while providing a good enough experience that they want to come back again. But staying on top is only possible when you time the jump right.
Like football, it’s about levels. And to go up the levels, you need the right timing, infrastructure, management, training, players, and supporters. Keep doing the same thing and expect the results to be the same. To improve and grow a team takes constant investment of time and money. Teams that win every day don’t rest on their laurels because they know that even to match the same results, they’ve got to do better than everyone around them that has added 20% to their game.
Of course, at the heart of any team is people. Things start getting interesting for a business leader when he or she names their first employee. They get more challenging at recruitment number two, three, four, and five. By the time multiple teams are reporting to duty every day across numerous depots spanning regions and even countries, it becomes a make or break situation. The only way to be sure a team keeps winning, is culture. If one person lets the team down in a small office in the most remote depot, that negative energy will spread. Before you know it, that whole facility will be infected.
Success is no accident
What did the great Brazilian footballer, Pelé, say?
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
Pelé’s references to learning and studying are important because only through continuing professional development (CPD) can a team reach and, moreover, stay at the top. Ask someone at a successful business how things are, and they rarely reply, “Good, thanks, it’s a stroll in the park.” More likely, they puff out their cheeks, and their chest, and say, “We’re doing well but we’re working hard for every dime, and we constantly want more from each other.” Tell a football team they can take their foot off the pedal when they’re two-nil up and they’ll be three-two down in no time. No different in business. As soon as anyone thinks the game is won, service levels drop, and things begin to unravel.
Challenge doesn’t only come from within. The better you do in life, the more it seems that people want to bring you down. Nobody’s bothered about people at the bottom of the pile, they want to target those at the top. Good teams and companies must insulate themselves from this. Just Google footage of Pelé getting fouled, almost violently at times. Why? Because opposing players were frightened about his ability.
Some of the most dynamic professionals I know have had to contend with similar tactics in the corporate world and industry, while some of the most successful firms are often ridiculed by those much smaller and less profitable. It’s life.
Remember, the best don’t talk about the rest.
We’ve all heard the quote, “Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas.” And there’s something in that. In fact, I prefer it to, “Great minds think alike.”
Don’t be fearful of the individuals or firms that waste their time talking others down. It’s the ones you don’t see or hear that will change the future. I don’t ever want to overhear my staff in discussion about a competitor. How can that dialogue be more important than generating ideas or helping a customer solve their current or next challenge?
Winning teams are good at finding solutions because they’re better equipped to deal with challenges and they’re more dynamic in response. It’s been an interesting year what with unprecedented price rises and a war on European soil, but the companies I know that have protected their growth curves have been those that were already on an upward trajectory, not just in terms of revenue, but across the board.
When new rules are introduced to football, it’s typically the best teams that manage to find ways to exploit them to their advantage. That’s all that’s happened in business. The rules have just been changed. But the goals haven’t.
“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning” — Pelé.
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd