The Evolution of Performance – talent can only take us so far
As with most things in life, time spent learning and practicing the basics consistently will outstrip raw talent in a race.
I happened to be watching the 2020 Formula 1 Grand Prix from Portimao in Portugal. As I often do, I reflected on the issues facing managers and leaders and saw a great analogy in F1 and Lewis Hamilton’s record breaking 92nd win. Lewis is an extraordinary talent and his position as the world’s best is also cemented by his attitude, consistency and the decisions he’s made.
Lewis started his route to success at around six years of age when he showed an interest in go-karting. Each weekend his father devoted time to Lewis, helping him to develop his talent. Go-karting is particularly important as a feeder pool to motor sport because it teaches quick reactions in the highly manoeuvrable and competitive little karts. After becoming a go-kart champion he spent time learning his craft in Formula Renault, Formula Three and GP2 before entering F1.
Whether you’re attempting to control a fast car or lead people, without know-how, practice and sound resources you are going to struggle. Would you put someone in an F1 car in the knowledge that their only experience of speed was the main road to work each day? No, you would not, because you know it’s a crash waiting to happen. So, why then do we find managers and leaders expected to make a quantum leap in levels of competency in new roles for which they have never been adequately supported, trained or developed? Expediency – convenience and practicality – springs to mind, but, be warned, it always comes at a cost. It is no surprise that in these situations managers or leaders who fail to produce what is required of them suffer personally, alongside their colleagues and wider organisation.
It’s simply not possible to jump the skills gap. Just like it’s isn’t possible to go from a family hatchback to a Mercedes F1 W11.