Who are you barracking for?

Image courtesy of the AFL

Image courtesy of the AFL

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in WA for the last couple of weeks, you’ll know we’ve just had the Western Derby weekend. “The BIGGEST Derby ever!” screamed the headlines, between the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles.

Prime news time was allocated to the giddy news about a couple, who because they were aligned to opposite sides had decided to paint the floor of their garage half purple, half blue and gold. Entire families had decked themselves out in their teams’ regalia paying out enough cash to need to re-mortgage their home.

For a visiting Martian it must have seemed a little odd – yet from the brain’s perspective it makes perfect sense.

We align ourselves with those we consider “like” us whether it is a sports team, our close group of friends or work colleagues.

And our greatest brainy reward comes from doing something for someone else.

The brain loves patterns and familiar patterns; so sharing common values, beliefs and world perspectives leads to the formation of strong bonds. It leads to trust and boosts levels of oxytocin between group members.

Seeing “our” team win brings out our sense of pride – we celebrate the win as if we achieved it ourselves. Our brain feels rewarded and that extra squirt of dopamine makes us feel good.

Barracking for our own team members at work can take various forms including mentoring, but there is another very powerful factor that can quickly elevate an individual to help them develop the skills required to take them to the next level.

It’s called sponsorship.

The beauty of sponsorship is that there are often many sponsors already available within an organisation. They may not be in the same team or department as you, but they will have observed your behaviour, your activities and outcomes, that leads them to think “this one is set to fly, let’s help them get their wings.”

It may show itself by the strategic introduction of key personnel, or an invitation to a meeting. It might even be through your sponsor speaking to your boss, but all of a sudden things start happening – a clear path to get you to get closer to your goals.

Having someone speak up or act on your behalf can be the difference between being an ‘also ran’ and a star.

Katy Perry is one of the world’s leading pop stars – but she was far from an overnight success. Her early years were fraught with failure even after signing up with several record companies.

However some of her followers and fans (including Madonna) believed in her potential and dragged her from Columbia records where she was going nowhere fast, and put her in front of the head of Capitol.

The rest as they say “is history” yet without that sponsorship, she might never have made it.

Feeling supported, valued and respected boosts performance because we feel more relaxed and confident. A relaxed brain feels safe; reducing stress levels and helps us  optimise how well we work.

Plus being the provider of doing good for someone else reduces our stress too. It’s so powerful, it’s been shown that cultivating a spirit of generosity and pro-social behaviour can lengthen life.

Workplace performance depends on the sum of all its contributors, big and small. Creating a culture that promotes sponsorship builds engagement, growth and achievement.

·       Does your workplace foster mentoring and sponsorship?

·       Do you have or have you been a workplace sponsor?

Who are you barracking for?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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