Meet England’s World Cup mindset gurus

Employment & Skills | Interview | Sport

Business Leader recently sat down with Ben Williams and Antony Thompson – the Royal-Marines-turned-mindset-gurus – to discuss their work with some of the biggest names in the business world, such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen, Manchester United, and Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup team, and how they are using military methods to keep teams performing at the top level.

Can you give me an overview of Find Your Edge Coaching and Consulting?

Find Your Edge Consulting is our brainchild. It combines our joint experiences, which include over twenty years combined service in the Royal Marines, to create a process that achieves higher levels of performance and consistent growth.

This process led to the creation of our unique methodology; our Inspiration Courage Enact (I.C.E.) model. This model targets motivation, allowing us to pinpoint where teams and business people lose their motivation and work with them to push through. Our I.C.E model helps unlock everyone’s potential to achieve more.

What was the inspiration to set up the company?

Mindset is the difference between success and failure. We both struggled with addiction (gambling and drugs, respectively) before we decided to join the Royal Marines. We knew that we weren’t living up to our potential, and that something had to change.

The Royal Marines opened up a new world to us. We learned how to push through fear in real life situations, and how to be single-minded in achieving our goals. Most importantly, we learned about how (and where) we were being held back. Oftentimes, we’re inspired to do something, and we have the courage to begin, but we stop before we’ve achieved our goal. Acknowledging that ‘stopping point’ was crucial in pushing through to achieve in the Marines.

After being discharged, we both had corporate careers, where we saw teams and executives fail time and time again at that crucial ‘stopping point’. That was when we realised that we had something that could change the way that businesses and teams look at the work we do, and Find Your Edge was born.

What are the aims for the company?

In the short term, our aims are simple. We want to help businesses, teams, and private clients be the best they can be. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing someone push through fear to achieve their dreams.

What companies have you worked with? How did you help them?

We’ve worked with some of the biggest businesses in the world, including Commerz Bank, Deustche Bank, and Volkswagen.

Most of our work focuses on two factors; company slip and sales team issues.

Company slip – for big businesses, it’s very easy to fall into the same patterns, and it’s difficult to break a pattern once it’s started. However, this attitude is not conducive with success. The biggest companies in the world don’t become so big because they play it safe. Businesses have to be flexible, and malleable to the market and the consumer.

Regarding Sales team issues, you wouldn’t believe how many sales teams we’ve been called in to help that are missing the basics. Businesses need to invest in their teams, give them the training they need to build confidence, and empower them to speak to the people that matter.

You have also worked with a lot of famous sports teams including Manchester United and the English national team – what did you do to help them? And what was the experience like?

What we try to instil is not necessarily the skill set that teams take to the pitch, but a culture of togetherness.

Cohesion, motivation and leadership are all part of the Commando mindset – and in football, as in armed combat, it could be the difference between winning and losing, success or failure. When we work with teams, we give them an insight into military culture.

On the football pitch, just like the battlefield, the people who matter most are those to your left and right – your friends. There are no egos, you all wear the same badge and you live by the same set of values. We help teams create their own culture and unlock their potential.

Are there a lot of similarities in how you work with sports teams and normal businesses?

Both businesses and sports teams require working with people, so the fundamentals are the same. Bizarrely, we often speak to sports teams about long term goals as we would in the business world, yet with businesses, we find ourselves speaking about a ‘sports team’ mentality.

Simply, what is lacking in one is present in the other, and vice versa. We just bridge the gap. The ultimate goal, improvement and then mastery, is the same.

What advice would you give to leaders looking to drive a company through times of change?

Know exactly what and how you’re going to change, and then stick to the plan. The worst thing a business leader can do when taking a company through change is to alter the plan after revealing the major changes.

Doing this is tempting – sometimes you don’t have things right the first go round, and it’s easier to muddle your way through – but repeated changes in direction drive fear and anxiety in your team. Be sure to spend time creating a plan that you’ll see through to the end, and remember to keep your employees and their reactions in mind – what reads like a good business decision for you might not look the same to staff.

How do you unlock a team’s potential? How do you motivate a whole team?

Unlocking a team’s potential is simple, but it isn’t easy. Leaders need to understand their teams, and know their inspiration for coming into work. Is it to succeed, no matter what? Is it to build a better life for themselves and their families? Are they looking for praise, or just collecting a paycheck? You’ve got to get to grips with your own company’s vision, to make sure your employees’ dreams and motivations are aligned.

Millennials and Generation Z will soon make up the majority of the workforce, and they’re not going to be inspired by lining the shareholders’ pockets. Today, people want to make a difference with the work they do. When you marry employee vision with company vision, you’ll motivate a team.

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