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Are You Windmilling?

Business leaders, like triathletes, must be careful to not fall into a "windmilling" pattern when they seek to go farther faster.

I know - because I was once a windmiller.

Photo Credit: Ashley Skatoff Photography

A triathlete, I sought to double my race distance, and before I knew it, I was windmilling. "Windmilling" swimmers are working hard, but they do not fully leverage the "catch" and "pull" stage of a stroke. A significant amount of the propulsive benefit of every stroke is lost - it literally slips through their fingers.

This is because the "catch" and "pull" is where the power of the stroke effort pays off. Of course, the swimmer cannot see this - we cannot "see" ourselves swim. Business leaders and teams - like swimmers - cannot necessarily see and analyze their own strokes.

Windmilling in business and in swimming have similar observable indicators. You may be windmilling in your business if any of the following are true:

1. You're working hard but you're not where you should be

2. You're tired - after all you're putting in a lot of effort

3. There's pain somewhere - such as the bottom line, morale or attrition of key staff (or a shoulder if you're a swimmer), as your system begins to breakdown under the workload.

Like the swim coach, an executive coach can help you stop windmilling. We can identify seemingly minor adjustments to the way you are moving through your figurative water. Relatively minor tweaks in specific areas can propel progress and increase the payoff on investment of effort, such as:

  • Transition strategy to ease what can otherwise be a costly shift between "Point A" and "Point B"

  • Better one-on-one interactions, resulting in more efficient execution and fewer conflicts - or "hydrodynamic flow" in swimming terms

  • Engagement strategy with stakeholders, to measurably increase support and traction for initiatives

  • Executive mindset and presence to increase influence and effectiveness, and ease stress

An executive coach can prescribe specific tools to help new, more efficient ways of interacting become more natural, more unconscious. Powerful assessments such as the Kolbe A Index, Profile XT and 360s, and communication audits at an organizational level, are the equivalents of stroke analysis.

When you become aware of windmilling and how to correct it, you will be amazed at what becomes possible; at how much farther you can go for the same - and often lower - perceived effort. Importantly, you'll attune earlier to leading indicators of windmilling, and be equipped to immediately course correct.

One thing is for sure: You'll know it when you have the full power of every stroke working for you.

I know - I was once a windmiller.

Where in your business or life are you "windmilling"? What are the indicators? What else could become possible for you if stop windmilling? #AHAInsight


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