Establish Structure – Gain Perspective – Create Change.

       Almost every organization has an organizational chart that reflects formal roles and responsibilities. Experts in the field of leadership note that If the structure is overlooked, an organization often misdirects energy and resources.  It should go then that a highly functioning sport performance organization or system requires structure so that appropriate energy is efficiently centered toward the development, safety and performance of the athlete.

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What is the Structure of your Organization? How is this structure demonstrated or reflected ?

 

There are a multitude of ways we can denote structure in performance system. Structure can be reflected in the presentation of the individuals who function within a given system. For instance, in the professional sports sector, we often have a hierarchal map which features a General Manager (generally presented at the top of tree) who oversees the various undertakings of a sports system such as the: 

          1. Parts or entities who oversee skill development and competition of  athletes ( generally presented below the general manager along side with other branches of a system).
          1. Parts or entities who oversee preparation and performance ( generally presented below the general manager along side with other branches of a system).

         The structure and presentation of a highly functioning sports system is an important undertaking and necessary factor in facilitating  successful sports performance. The presentation of structure within a sports performance system reflects its values. Members can rely on this presentation as a resource for insight to the overall function of a system. This factor is important to organizational success as well as other factors. As author Harold Ramos once said: 

“My only conclusion about structure is that nothing works if you don’t have interesting characters and a good story to tell.” – Harold Ramos

The key to interesting characters and good stories is that they-re often layered and multi-dimensional. People listening to such stories or characters can appreciate it from a multitude of vantage points. What Harold is teaching us is that structure which leverages perspective is much better than just the construct of structure alone.  In other words, we must not only build a highly organized entity which supports the ability of stakeholders to function, but also to provide those stakeholders a multitude of perspectives. This strategy can create efficiency and improve their chances to make clear and effective decisions which can translate to a higher rate of successful outcomes. Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal, authors of “How Great Leaders Think, The Art of Reframing” preface their book with a simple message: “Leaders who can reframe – look at the same thing from multiple perspectives – think better.  Thinking better is the key to any successful venture.

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Leveraging Perspective is a Key factor to gaining comprehensive information or components for effective decision making

        Ultimately, success in sport performance systems (or organizations) requires the ability to gain, learn and intervene with perspective.  This is a fundamental principle that can be observed in various factions and functions of successful sports bodies today.

This ability is recognize when  we develop cohesion between various departments such as Skill Competition specialist with those who focus on Preparation and performance. Perspective is the essence of transformative Leadership which is understood as an effective Communication practice between leaders and performers on the field of play. This fundamental principle of leveraging perspective can also be understood as reframing. Reframing describes a strategy in which Leaders adopt more than one frames to allow for seamless communication, discussion, intervention and integration.

As Sports competition improves more attention must be centered to gaining perspective  both outside and within an organization. Sports performance organizations reaching for success cannot afford to oversimplify and overlook the multi frame complexity embedded in sports performance.

In a 2016 study, researcher Jan Ekstrand and her team reported four common risk factors related to Injury risk in football. Authors of this study determined that  the workload imposed on players, the players’ well-being, the quality of internal communication and the head coach’s leadership style (Ekstrand, 2016) played important roles in injury risk. Each of these elements requires the action of gaining perspective in order to effectively reach a good conclusion.

Workload imposed on the players can be determined through external factors such as GPS monitoring as well as Player assessments. The combination of both strategies however provides a more accurate picture of player workload. Player’s well being or readiness can be assessed through external testing such as jump profiles and internal testing procedures which center on central nervous system function.  The combination of both tools however can reflect a comprehensive picture of a player’s well-being. Forms of communication that are multifactorial as opposed to singular allow for a efficiency in the the transfer of information. And a leadership style which leverages the voice of various constituents can potentially provide a wide range of views resulting in comprehensive decision making.  This style of leadership can be understood as Transformational leadership.  It involves motivating and inspiring followers to go beyond their self-interest for the benefit of collective interests by providing vision, meaning, challenges and stimulation ( Ekstrand et al. 2017). Authors of this study, suggested the transformational leadership, or the style that leverages perspective to a greater level than other forms of leadership is associated with the greatest level of performance in sport. 

“Research in the area of sports psychology indicates that transformational leadership on the part of coaches is associated with higher levels of motivation and performance,9improved development and skill gains, increased well-being, increased satisfaction,reduced aggression,increased task/team cohesion10 18–20 and increased willingness to make personal sacrifices for the good of the team.1 (Ekstrand et al., 2017)

Transformational Leadership fits a democratic form of leadership that allows individuals with different beliefs and values to voice their opinions. It allows stakeholders the opportunity to look at issues through different lenses to determine what action to take.  Moreover, it increases the probability of seeing and solving “real” problems.  This form of leadership is effective at both expanding thinking, decision making and innovating. 

This form of leadership is what some authors recognize as “reframing”. These authors believe that the ability for individuals to use more than one frame increases and individuals ability to  make clear decisions and judgements and to act effectively.  In the process of reframing we have to consider not only how a sports system is organized but the interaction between individuals such as players and organizational needs such player management. Reframing also suggest that we must examine the political environment that exists within a system. We can use these systems to help create coalitions, and power bases that can support the objective of a system.  The usefulness of political reframing can be appreciated in team settings where there is resistance to change.  Those leaders adept at gaining political capital are better able to overcome resistance for effective policy changes.  Authors Bolman and Deal demonstrate how gaining a symbolic frame can be useful in the structure of sports performance. Many performance coaches will argue today that an inability to recognize organizational ritual, ceremony, stories or culture will result in ineffective practice no matter how brilliant or effective they may be. This lesson is a reminder that organizations no matter what they do are more than structures. They each tell a story. And to be better at promoting that organization to success you must understand that story on many levels. furthermore, you must be willing to intervene in a multitude of ways to implement success.

The more  comprehensive, intelligent and valuable information we can gain the more armed we are at making a comprehensive, intelligent and valuable decision. Comprehensive is built on multiple perspective. The more perspectives we have the more comprehensive a piece of information is.  “In A  world of increasing ambiguity and complexity, we believe that the ability to use more than one frame increases and individuals ability to make clear judgements and to act effectively.” – (Bolman & Deal, 1992) . 

 

 

References: 

Bolman, L., Deal, T. (1992) Leading and Managing: Effects of Context, Culture and Gender: Educational Administration Quarterly. (28)3., 314 – 329

Ekstrand J. (2016). Preventing injuries in professional football: thinking bigger and working together. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 50:709–710.

Ekstrand, J., Lundqvist, D., Lagerbäck, L., Vouillamoz, M., Papadimitiou, N., & Karlsson, J. (2017). Is there a correlation between coaches’ leadership styles and injuries in elite football teams? A study of 36 elite teams in 17 countries. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(8), 527-531

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