One of the reasons I have always loved high school and college wrestling as a sport is that a competitor lives and dies on his or her own merits…yes…females are becoming more prevalent in High School wrestling. One of the aspects of the sport that has always attracted me is that when you lose there is no one else to blame. You can’t hide behind “the team.” You are out there on your own. This creates a certain sense of urgency and determination to win. It’s embarrassing to be beaten in front of hundreds of spectators…much less be pinned!

The negative aspect of the emphasis on the “the team” in this country is that people can point the finger at someone else for the team’s failure…and often they do. In wrestling you are part of a team…but there is more personal accountability because of the visibility when you succeed or fail. If every individual member of the team performs…and part of performing is working together as a team… the team wins. Pretty simple.

With the emphasis on “the team” that has pervaded organizations more and more today, I see coaches/leaders less willing to sit a person down and hold people accountable for individual performance. This…along with our reluctance to make people feel bad…has caused us to overlook substandard individual performance. If people felt bad when they screwed up…they might actually start to perform. Like wrestling…if…when you lose…you feel bad…you will resolve to address what caused the pain of feeling bad so it doesn’t happen again. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating ripping someone to shreds when they make mistakes. I am advocating holding individuals accountable…like when you lose in wrestling…so you don’t want it to happen again. That’s what changes behavior! That is what drives performance…along with the positive reinforcement you as a leader/parent can provide when you see positive performance.

As leaders in an organization…or as parents…we can’t be afraid to address substandard performance and hold people individually accountable because someone will feel bad! If we do…there will be no reason for that individual to change. Ask yourself if the people below will do what it takes to 1) keep performing well or 2) change what they did wrong to perform better and avoid the pain of failure. The answer is a resounding “yes!” Why? Because they are held accountable…or rewarded… based on their individual performance!