The best coaches can teach us a lot about creating high functioning energy management teams.  

John Herdman is one of those coaches. He led the Canadian women’s soccer team to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals and to Canada’s first gold at the Pan American games. Herdman now coaches the Canadian men’s soccer team. The Canadian men recently qualified for a spot in the World Cup, something they haven’t done since 1986. 

What underpins Herdman’s coaching success? From interviews he’s given, a few principles emerge: 

  1. Emotional commitment. Herdman connects with his players on an emotional level. “You have to touch someone’s heart before you can take them by the hand”. He adds, “My job is to fuel passion in people so they see a bigger vision of themselves.”  
  1. Commitment to a shared purpose. Players understand their team achieves a purpose larger than themselves. “I think over time the leadership group have understood the importance of shared purpose.” 
  1. Confidence in the team’s abilities. Herdman speaks boldly about the future of his team, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of confidence and self belief.  
  1. Diversity of members. Herdman notes the diverse countries of origin in the makeup of the successful Canadian men’s team
  1. A strong desire to succeed. Herdman does not accept defeatist attitudes. 

Do these coaching principles matter? Herdman used them to recruit eight key players for Canada when they had the choice of playing for other national teams instead.  In explaining his decision to play for Canada, Milan Borjan says, “Canada gave us peace, better schools, a better life… better everything. This is the just the way of us to return it to Canada.”  

How might these coaching principles create a high functioning energy/carbon management team in your organization? 

  1. Emotional commitment. Connect the team’s work with something each member values, such as perhaps, protection of the environment. 
  1. Commitment to a shared purpose. Show how the team’s purpose enhances the value or reputation of the company or advances its contribution to the larger community. 
  1. Confidence in the team’s abilities. Support from the executive leadership will signal the likelihood of success. Early success will drive momentum and reinforce team confidence. 
  1. Diversity of members. A cross-disciplinary team has the enhanced capacity to determine feasible and winning solutions from those which aren’t. 
  1. A strong desire to succeed. Recruit motivated employees. Celebrate team wins and acknowledge member contributions.  

There’s no “World Cup” for energy and carbon management. But controlling energy and carbon emissions is as important to the world’s future as any activity could be. Help make your energy team perform at its highest level. It makes a positive difference.

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