Can you teach an “old dog” new tricks?

As a tennis player myself, Roger Federer has been one of my heroes since the beginning of his career and over the years I have watched in admiration and awe, how easy the game of tennis seemed to come so naturally to him.
Roger has won everything, he has 17 Grand Slam titles (the most ever by any man in history), a net worth and career earnings of $180 million and in 2013 alone he earned $71.5. He can even boast an Olympic Gold Medal in the doubles.

But at the age of 32 what keeps him going? Let’s face it, 2013 has not been the most successful year for Roger in terms of wins – he went from number 2 in the world to number 7 (his lowest ranking in 11 years) and lost in the second round at Wimbledon. It was also the year he did not reach a major final since 2002! He also suffered from a back injury which hasn’t help.

I seriously started to think that the time might have come for this great Champion to bow out and hang his racket!
But oh no, not the “new” rejuvenated Roger Federer! The way he has dispatched Tsonga and Murray to get through to the Australian semi-final against Nadal was simply awesome (that’s his 11th successive Aussie Open semi-final). But what has he done?

Well, firstly he has surrounded himself with a new coach – Stefan Edberg. Stefan has definitely added a new dimension to Roger’s game tactically. He is serving and volleying much more, being much more aggressive on key points and he has worked tirelessly over the winter on his back hand and his fitness and continues to set himself tough targets. His back has improved greatly and its enabling him to feel much more confident on court. But Roger has also changed a key tool of his trade after many years – he has a new 98 square-inch Wilson racket (compared with the 90 square-inch racket he used to play with). The transition has not been smoothed, but it looks like he has now found a model he likes.
Now whether or not Roger ends up beating Rafa tomorrow morning (and his record isn’t great against him) and go on to win the Australian Open remains to be seen! Whatever happens, you cannot but admire Roger for some of the bold and brave decisions he has taken late in his career and I personally think there are many Leadership lessons we can learn from what he has done.

So let me ask you this? Where are you in your career and what are you doing to stay competitive? Do you have a coach? If you do, do they continually bring new ideas and new ways of working? How about your Leadership Teams? How fit and effective are they? Are they being challenged, coached, up-skilled so they can continue to compete effectively? How about your Leadership toolkit? Is it up to date and effective? If you are interested to find out how we have helped many Leadership Teams and Leaders remain on top of their games and achieve high performance over the last few years, let us know as we would love to hear from you! In the meantime…Go on Roger!!