Olympics Gymnastics: 4 Ways the Women’s US Olympic Gymnastics Team Teaches us to Master the Workplace|
I’m a BeWieber.
I’ll admit it up front, I’m a complete and total Olympics junkie. Yet never in my life have I been as completely inspired at an athletic event as I was watching the Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team Final last night.
The “Fab 5,” as the NBC broadcasters call this team, are certainly amazingly talented athletes. For me, the real inspiration is how this team has unconsciously shown us the ultimate example of women helping women.
1. Rise Above the Workplace Competition
You’ve all read the drama in theSkimm – reigning World Champion gymnast Jordan Wieber will not be competing in the Gymnastics All-Around competition because she was edged out by her very own teammate, Aly Raisman. I couldn’t help but draw an exact comparison with the ongoing unspoken competition I had with my colleagues at the consulting firm I worked at after college. We knew there was a limited amount of spots for promotion each year. We knew we were all in the running. But we knew there were more of us than there were spots.
I cried just like Jordyn Wieber (I’m sure quite a lot more, sad to say) when I didn’t get promoted over my friends. Yet, what did she do? Buckled down, nailed her team performance, and was the first one out of the gates to hug the very person who edged her out after her last rotation. These incredible gymnasts have provided us a perfect role model of how to handle workplace competition – rise above the egos, don’t forget the friendships, and focus on the next success.
2. Encourage Others (to be a Real Leader)
Team captain, Aly Raisman, has been recognized for her quiet, competent leadership throughout the Olympic games. While not the biggest name on the team, she exemplified what it means to be a leader – encouraging your team to do their personal best. Before Gabby Douglas was up in the rotation for the balance beam, the broadcast showed a short clip of Aly giving Gabby a hug and talking her through her nerves. “You’ve got this, you can do it,” said Aly, with her hands on Gabby’s shoulders. Followed by, “You’re right, I can,” from Gabby.
This is the kind of conversation I hope women are having regularly at work! Encouraging each other to do their best, building one another up, and of course, congratulating each other when praise is due.
3. Exercise Your Praise Muscle
This gymnastics team congratulated each other’s performances over and over again. After every single routine, the microphones picked up a deluge of compliments, I’m proud of you’s, and you did awesomes from the Fab 5 teammates to each other. When people are congratulating you for your success, it’s hard not to feel good about yourself and your hard work. Plus, studies have shown that our generation flourishes on positive reinforcement and compliments. Take a page out of the Fab 5 book and remember to compliment a co-worker next time he or she does something awesome – the organizational culture it creates is one geared towards success.
4. Value Teamwork
The Fab 5 landed a gold medal with the greatest point lead since the 1960 Olympics. They rocked it. And, most importantly, they recognized that it wasn’t anyone’s own individual glory that saved the day – it was entirely a result of teamwork. In their post-win interview, each gymnast seemed to repeat a version of “we are just really, really proud of each other.” How wonderful does it (or perhaps, would it) feel for your coworkers to genuinely be proud of your contributions when the team is successful? This solidarity, this encouragement of peers – colleagues and competitors alike – this recognition that its whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is what great teams are made of.
Next time you’re having a bad day with your team at work, think of the extraordinary example set by the Fab 5. These ladies inspired me this week, and will inspire me to be a better leader and colleague in years to come!