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<<First Name>>, Welcome back to The 90%!
90% of US workers believe empathetic leadership leads to higher job satisfaction, according to Ernst and Young. Additionally they found that it leads to positive change, enables trust, and increases productivity.

Yes, it's still July, but fall coaches and athletes are gearing up. NFL rookies have reported to training camp and the veterans come in by the 26th. The Premier League kicks off on August 5th.  College and high school coaches are planning for the fall.

One of the challenges every team faces is leadership. A frequent complaint of coaches is that, "We lack good leadership this year." My response to that is, "How did you prepare them to lead?"

Earlier this year, I conducted a study of leadership development within an athletic department. Coaches identified hard work, a team-first attitude, accountability, and positivity as the traits of their best leaders. They also indicated that selfishness, a lack of commitment, and/or a lack of initiative from athletes were their greatest challenges. While there was agreement on the desired behaviors of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, a progressive, systematic approach to developing those traits was lacking. 

Just as we think about periodizing training, we need to consider periodized, progressive leadership training. Identify your desired leadership progression. Begin with the end in mind, and start developing your desired traits with the youngest players. State the behavior standards explicitly and celebrate their demonstration. Make everyone accountable for upholding the standards of the program. It will take time, but it will pay off in a consistency of leadership versus leadership that ebbs and flows depending on the personalities of a particular class.

Anna Hall won the bronze medal in the heptathlon last week at the World Championships in Eugene, OR, becoming the first American woman to medal since 2001. The bronze medal capped a tremendous year that included winning the 2022 NCAA pentathlon and heptathlon titles and the USA heptathlon title. As my athletes will tell you, that's an outcome, not the process. So let's look at where she was a year ago.

At the US Olympic Trials, she hit a hurdle in the first event, crashed, broke a navicular bone in her foot and tore a deltoid. After a long post-surgery rehab, she had to overcome the fear of re-injury in her first meet back. “I didn’t really know what the future would hold or if I would have to switch events. Just coming back from the foot thing has definitely been a very big struggle.” At the same time, she  transferred from the University of Georgia to the University of Florida. The challenges fueled her motivation, and she entered 2022 faster, stronger, and more self-aware.

"I was a . . . little bit better at managing my emotions and just keeping relaxed. I ended up putting together a better first six events [at the NCAAs] than I ever had. I definitely learned that, and I’m hoping to take that into worlds.”

It's clear that she did just that, setting three personal bests along with a point total that was third best in US history. As you can hear in her interview (below) "Having fun . . . embracing the moment . . . and enjoying being here" were key parts of her success. Anna embodies the concept of playing FREE (covered in my last newsletter), and it will be exciting to see what the future holds for her.

As you think about the upcoming season, mental rehearsal is a powerful tool to utilize. Research has shown the value and impact of mental rehearsal. I prefer the term mental rehearsal over visualization or imagery because it incorporates all of the senses and emphasizes the value of rehearsing and repeating desired actions or states. Check out the infographic below to learn the basics of mental rehearsal.
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