Are You a COVID Climate Changer?

by Dr. Greg Shelley

"We can't all be great players, but we can all be great teammates." Jay Bilas

These are unprecedented times! Times that may be unparalleled in history and times of uncertainty, filled with fear, doubt, worry, and anxiety.  This has resulted in a host of negative emotions, thoughts, feelings, and changed lives.  Without question, these statements remain relevant, descriptive, and pertinent in these ongoing pandemic times. 

Many have experienced the direct impact of COVID, including physical illness (and in some cases death), seasons canceled, jobs lost, and financial hardship.  In short, these times continue to be difficult and uncertain!  Maybe more than ever before, there is a need for positive and influential leaders, teams, and teammates.  No doubt, extraordinary times demand extraordinary leaders and positive changers. 

Below is a summary of three types of “influencers” that are often found across organizational groups and sport teams.  Despite the ongoing challenges, it is my hope that you might still be encouraged to be a positive influence and a COVID Climate Changer!  Your positive influence is needed more now than ever before!

Personalities, cultures, and teammates vary from one team to the next.  Although your team and teammates are unique, teammates generally fall into one of three categories.

1. Climate Destoyer

The first teammate can best be described as a climate destroyer.  As the name implies, the climate destroyer will find numerous ways to destroy a team. They often complain about, argue with, and resist just about anything and everyone.  They regularly disagree with training plans, practice and conditioning schedules, leadership styles, and even the purpose or intent for doing what is asked.  In sum, they don’t agree with their coaches, team captains, teammates, or when, why, or how things are done.  These athletes are typically disgruntled and unhappy.  They are negative and in direct opposition to any positive team relationships.  Climate destroyers are the bad apples that will wreck your team. 

2. Climate Retainer

The second type of teammate is a climate retainer.  The retainer is usually content with the status quo. They typically do what is asked, do so without whining or complaining, and can be counted on to complete a task.  With that said, the retainer rarely goes above and beyond what is expected . . . and does not generally put in extra time, energy, or resources to improve upon what currently and already exists.  Retainers can be inconsistent from drill to drill and practice to practice . . . but they are “coachable” and often willing to be challenged to do more (if asked)!  In sum, climate retainers are relatively good teammates and likely represent many of your current teammates. 

3. Climate Changer

The third type of teammate is a climate changer.  As you might expect, the changer regularly impacts the team (and team climate) in a positive way.  Changers have a knack for stepping up and stepping in when their teammates need them most.  They consistently commit to modeling high standards and doing more, and doing things better, than everyone else.  And changers do things with a great attitude.  They change the way everyone thinks, interacts, plays, and responds.  They make training sessions better, practices more fun, film sessions more enjoyable, bus rides more exciting, wins more pleasurable, and losses more manageable.  And yes, they even make dealing with COVID a bit easier! 

Climate changers are positive, influential, and very good at changing team climates to promote togetherness, commitment, and team success.  In sum, climate changers are all about making their teams better.  Most teammates train and play with their teammates . . . climate changers train and play for their teammates!  They know they can positively change and improve their team climate . . . so they do. Climate changers change everyone and everything for the better. 

Question: During these ongoing difficult COVID times, what are you currently doing to promote a positive team climate?  What are you doing and saying to develop a team climate that your teammates want to be a part of every day?  In short, what are you doing to create a COVID climate of success?

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How to Work with Each Category

1. Overwhelm the destroyers

Climate destroyers make everything worse!  And because you cannot change what they say, how they act, or how they respond . . . it may seem like you have little impact on these teammates.  However, you can make it more difficult for the destroyer to continue their destroying ways.  With that said, organize your positive teammates (climate changers and even some the most influential climate retainers) and make a concerted effort to override and overwhelm the team destroyers.  Band together with your teammates to create a stronger, more positive, fun, and exciting team climate.  Make every team task better.  Set the tone with a GREAT ATTITUDE, GREAT ENTHUSIASM, AND GREAT PASSION.  Say positive things about your teammates and coaches.  Be coachable and teachable.  Make a habit of responding with optimism. Overwhelm the destroyers with better ways of doing, responding, and growing!     

What positive teammates can you include when banding together to create a more positive, fun, and exciting COVID team climate?  What’s your plan for overwhelming any destroyers?   

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2. Empower the retainers

Climate retainers do not usually stand out in positive or negative ways; they just do their jobs.  They show up, do their jobs, go home, and come back tomorrow to start the process again.  They retain the status quo and are generally content with “the way things are” and the current team climate.  So, retainers will need empowered to do more and say more.  They will need you (and others) to encourage, support, and hold them to more positive things to say and better ways of doing things.  Remember, retainers will often give more and produce more if encouraged to do so.  So, come along side your best and most positive team retainers with encouragement and support for improving the existing (current) team climate.  Empower your retainers to be better . . . in everything they do!     

How can you better empower, encourage, and support your retainer teammates who might be growing content with the current COVID status quo?  What two or three retainer teammates can you start to empower today? 

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3. Magnify the changers

Work closely with your climate changers.  Organize and unite your team changers in working together to best model and represent the team climate you want.  There is strength in numbers, so come together with other willing climate changing teammates to create and improve your existing team climate. Magnify all climate changers to be even more influential in . . . and better at . . . what they already do well.          

How can you magnify your climate changing teammates who want to do more for creating a better COVID team climate?  What changers can be magnified today? 

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“Always try to be a shining light, bringing life to every situation.”
Maya Moore

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