The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Calm Contributors

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During my work with soccer coaches I came across many models for recruiting players. One approach was to find calm players who could spread this feeling throughout the team.

Since then I have applied this approach when helping people to build super teams in organisations. Calm contributors focus on the following steps when doing work alone or as part of a team.


Such people start by establishing clarity. They clarify the real result to achieve and the strategy for achieving these results. They like to get the overall context and see how their work will contribute to the big picture.


Such people stay calm, even in the midst of crises. When working with soccer players, for example, it was vital to recruit such players down the spine of the team.

As one coach said: “The goalkeeper should be the calmest player on the field.”

The central defenders, central midfield players and the central attacker should emanate fighting spirit but also be stabilising forces during the game.


Such people consistently deliver professional performances. Coaches in sports recognise that good habits are vital, both on and off the field. Maintaining such habits increases the likelihood of being able to deliver high performances when it matters.

Concrete Results

Such people embrace a paradox. They believe in following certain principles, rather than becoming captivated by prizes.

The paradox is that, by pursuing these principles, they are more likely to gain the prizes. Such people keep doing the right things in the right way to get the right results.

Looking back on your life, when you have worked in such a way? You may have done this when working by yourself or making a contribution to a team.

What did you do right then to make such a contribution? What were the principles you followed? How did you translate these into daily practice?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe when you followed some of these principles to deliver concrete results.

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During the past few years I have been fortunate to work with several people who have played such a role in teams. One such person was the Managing Director of a company that was bought by a larger organisation.

After several months, however, the buyers promoted him to become Chief Executive of the whole business. Recognising he is always on stage, he aims to be positive and predictable. He also creates an environment in which people can achieve peak performance.

He is what Jim Collins, author of Good To Great, calls a Level 5 Leader. You can read more about such leaders via the following link.

Level 5 leaders possess a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.

It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious – but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves.

Looking to the future, are there any situations in which you may want to make a calm contribution? If so, how can you start by establishing clarity? How can you then focus on calmness, consistency and concrete results?

You may want to follow this process when pursuing a personal project, such as writing a book, building a house, passing on knowledge or whatever. Alternatively, you may want to help a team or organisation to achieve its picture of success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to look ahead and do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to be a calm contributor.

Describe the specific things you can do to be calm, consistent and deliver concrete results.

Describe specific benefits of doing these things and being a calm contributor.

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