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Four questions for teams


With the end of the thrilling Six Nations, the climax of the football season, The World T20 in Bangladesh and the end of the tax year for many businesses, the concept of why teams function and malfunction are again being examined in detail.

Whether it is in sport, business or any performance related activity, very little can be achieved without belief in what you are trying to achieve. Thousands of pieces of literature have been written on this often deep and complex topic, but if you use current examples in elite sport there are some key themes that are easily identified that help make a team fulfil its potential.

And these are not based on technical skills or deep scientific advances. But they are based on human relationships, the most experienced and successful people still looking to improve, and actually enjoying the demanding and often very public process. Whether it is the now much respected England Rugby Team, or the exciting and emerging team at Liverpool FC, the signs of a successful and cohesive team are identifiable. So what are they?

  • Firstly, you can tell the teams and coaches have a genuine passion and desire for what they do. They may well be handsomely rewarded for their skill, but that is secondary to the sheer joy of training and playing. They play almost with a schoolboy attitude, which money and rewards can diminish, if allowed. 
  • Secondly, authentic leadership is crucial, as command and control is from a bygone era. It is clear that Stuart Lancaster and Brendan Rogers command respect, but it is equally clear they care about the people they lead. There is a focus on them as the leader, but all of their public references are about their players, not themselves. The players feel and recognise this, and the loyalty and hard work is reciprocated.
  • Thirdly, they have encouraged people to learn, even those at the end of their careers. A clear example of this was Steven Gerrard stating that he found working with a leading psychiatrist helps him deal with the emotional off the field issues that can affect performance. But it shows that the best teams look for ways to improve, even if it is open to ridicule from the sceptics. 
  • And finally, despite the long term vision of both England and Liverpool, everyone knows what they are meant to be doing on a daily basis. So often people can get lost in management speak and visions that have not been explained. But people want to know what they are meant to be doing “today”.

Out of this comes four key questions for you and your team:

  1. Do you and your team have a genuine love of what you do? If not, how can you create this as which may well be an emotional connection rather than a fixed target.
  2. Do you care about your team mates or is it about your success? If it is about you, they will spot it and may desert you when you need them most.
  3. Have you created a learning environment? People want to improve and this will mean making mistakes without fear of being embarrassed and humiliate for doing so.
  4. Do they know what they are meant to be doing now? Has that been clearly explained and why?

Places are running out at our next Masterclasses in Glasgow and London, to join delegates from sport and business click here.

For further information contact us here

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