HOW DOES “FEAR” IMPACT PERFORMANCE?
Can fear create a high-performance culture?
What I learned at the football club
“I was studying for my Masters degree in Occupational Psychology in Sheffield, the northern English city once famous for its steel making. I decided to examine high performance in teams as part of my research project and chose Sheffield United Football Club as the subject of my thesis. Why? Why not? Where better to understand the dynamics of a high performing team.
I spent the season sitting on the sidelines at matches, observing training sessions, and even attending an intensive army training boot camp with the team. I noticed a laser-like focus on maximizing performance – with players experiencing a barrage of daily feedback, time on the bench, and even sitting out entire games. But was the club a psychologically “unsafe” environment, especially given the fact that footballers were constantly at risk of losing their place on the team?
The answer to this question was “No”. Players framed their role as members of an elite sports team. They knew that this was not a job for life. They also understood that it was the manager’s role to find the best player for every position on the field.”