“Do you see me? I’m electrified!” beamed Mark Tewksbury, as Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel won bronze in the synchronized diving – one a medalist in four Olympics, the other a 20-year-old rookie.
“It’s a young team coming together with veterans, and the energy that can be created can be magical.”
Tewksbury, who heads the Canadian team, is double the age of most of the athletes. “My goal is to be really accessible and credible to the athletes. I’ve been there…I understand the journey,” he told journalist Rosie DiManno
Are there lessons for public servants here?
When were you last electrified? Can we apply the veteran pairing with the rookie model? Can we share, like Tewksbury, “bad moments, I’ve had a lot of them,” but persevere to succeed?
The Institute for Citizen Centred Service a few years ago identified “willingness to go the extra mile” as one of the keys to public satisfaction with our services. And once in a while, we’ll need to do that. But to expect it regularly is too much – shouldn’t management’s approach be to set up a process, a system, which supports public servants doing a good job, rather than one where they are frustrated by arcane procedures or by a clay layer of management. They shouldn’t have to regularly “go the extra mile” to overcome obstacles, because they are set up to succeed since the obstacles are removed. Public service is more about daily performance than peaking every four years.
As we slide into the long weekend, relax; enjoy the Olympics, while taking a Socratic moment to reflect on building veteran-rookie teams and what other lessons we might take away from this wonderful event.