Tough Love

tough Love

Leadership isn’t just about setting Bold Goals, creating an Inspiring Plan, and then Rewarding and Recognising your team until they achieve Success.
No, sometimes we need administer Tough Love.

So what’s Tough Love?

Tough Love is when you look to drive your team harder than they have been driven before, in order to succeed.

It’s when you see their objections just as weak excuses, for not leaving their comfort zone, and you just ignore them.

Tough Love is a tough balancing act. Too much Tough Love and you can demotivate your team, make them rebel and resist your words, too little and you will need give them the impetus to kick on again, and move forward.

So Tough Love is an important tool in our armoury, but we need to use it sparingly and at the right time.

We also have to earn the right to be able to use Tough Love, we cannot start out with it, we have to earn the Trust of our teams first so that they can understand it’s Tough Love, and that we are not just criticising them, or bullying them.

Just recently I had to provide a little dose of this to my friend Dave as we prepare for the Cologne Marathon, it was the second time we were running 30km as part of our training plan, and this is the longest distance he has run.

Both times as we approached 27-28km he started to feel the effects in his legs and start to complain, started to gripe, and question whether he could complete the training distance or not.

If our overall goal had been to run 30km then I would have looked to encourage him, tell him how far we had come, how great he had done, and how little we had left to run, less than 10% to the finish line.

But our Goal isn’t 30km, its to run 42km, and I know its going to feel much harder for him once we get closer to 38 and 39, the discomfort will be even harder at that point.

So here I needed to give him some Tough Love, point  out that at 25km we were only a little way over 50% towards our target, that we needed to suck it up and keep going, and not even think about stopping now, otherwise we would be doomed to fail.

He was approaching the edge of his comfort zone, this is why he was finding it tough, but our ultimate goal is way outside his comfort zone and we only have 5 weeks of training left.

So now I need to really push him out of his comfort zone, drag him if necessary, in order that we could move towards where we needed to be at this stage.

I can’t repeat what I said, I did use some colourful language, and pointed out that others had been through far worse and continued.

Dave kept going to the end, I don’t believe he appreciated my Tough Love at the time, but in 5 weeks when we cross the finish line and enjoy the glory, I know that he will look back at that run and know that he needed pushing that little bit extra in order to be here.

Whilst he might not have necessarily appreciated the Tough Love, he accepted it without too much complaint, because we have a strong Trust, he knew I wasn’t just being hard because I could, but he knew I was actually trying to help.

I doubt that this is the last time I will use Tough Love as we move forward, but it will be used sparingly.

I remember one of my team members asking me, when I really pushed them, “Do you know how much hard work it is to be this successful?”

And I replied “yes, I do, and if it was easier, then everyone would be successful, and you wouldn’t appreciate your achievements!”

If we want to achieve Big, Bold Goals, then we need to get outside our comfort zones, it is going to require us to work very hard and to push ourselves further than we have been pushed before, and sometimes Tough Love is needed to give us a nudge in the right direction.

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles