Do you watch tennis? If you do, you may be familiar with John McEnroe, who used to be the bad boy of tennis with his famous line “You cannot be serious!” Which he used whenever a judgement went against him.

These days he has calmed down a bit and makes an insightful and interesting commentator.

As I watched Andy Murray win his match at Wimbledon, McEnroe commented at one point that the mark of a really good player was someone who was cool-headed enough to be able to change their strategy when things got really tough.

When things are tough

This is a vital point. When things are not going your way and you are feeling threatened or frightened, long-term thinking is much more difficult than usual. This is because your brain likes to focus on you immediate survival in these situations.

So you tend to respond with knee-jerk reactions instead of being proactive. You see new information as a threat and can be blind to opportunities.

Managing difficult change

During a workshop with a publicity department on managing change years ago, I described these responses to them in serious tones. The more serious I got, the more they laughed. I asked them what was so funny. “You’ve just described our senior management team perfectly.” Responded the director.

A vital skill for senior managers

More than ever, this skill is something that senior managers need to have. Sadly, the evidence is that many of them don’t have it. You can tell if you see your company lurching from one crisis to another, making the same mistakes time and time again, with the directors making short-term decisions and reacting instead of taking control.

The prognosis for companies with directors lacking these crucial skills is not good.

A good place to start

Keep the senior team focussed on the long-term goals and objectives. Just like all the other objectives, these still need to be SMART.  Keeping your eye on these can help, but you also need people with the crucial skill of being able to set goals and objectives when they are under threat.

For more help with this, contact us +44 (0)1483 811418

One Response to “Vital thinking skills for top people”

  1. kasim
    July 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Nancy,
    I always read your mail for the thing which we always used in office work.
    Two things which i like is about the way you complete your sentences with good grammer word and always have topic in overall business.

    Always keep this habit for us.