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Six Nations: Team Culture


The start of the Six Nations has been as exciting as ever. We gained our first glimpse into the team cultures of the rival nations and a view of how well these star players might gel together under pressure.

Culture is hard to define and even harder to measure. It is easy to say the team culture is strong when results are going your way and the team members can say that that their team spirit is special. That is not the best time to test or measure your culture.

In our experience at Sporting Edge through spending time with the world’s leading coaches, your team culture is best tested when everything is seemingly going against you. Coaches and leaders such as Pat Howard, former Leicester Tigers coach and now Manager of Cricket Australia, state that culture is hard to define and there is no “magic bullet”, even though we all wish there was.

But the clear message emanating from the best leaders is simple. They believe it is the “little things” that can make or break a team and its culture. When you “compromise on the little things that is when it can hurt your team the most”. It was interesting to read Matt Prior stating that this was the case with England in the recent Ashes series and defeat followed.

The clear pattern with the consistent high performing teams is that they set their own internal standards and rules, and they respect and adhere to them. They are often tested, particularly in adversity and defeat, but when a team refuses to buck on the little things, then team culture and trust grows.

It is clear that Stuart Lancaster wants to build an identity and culture around the England team and he will not compromise on the teams standards whether they win or lose, as they did in Paris.

In our recent interview with Stuart he outlined the importance of culture in his personal philosophy:

“Culture comes before performance; I spend all my time at the outset making sure the cultures right because what really tests your culture is when you go on an extended losing run…you will get long-term high performance on the back of strong culture.”

So while culture seems a difficult word to define, the top leaders know how importance the behavioural boundaries are. When you set the rules, you have to adhere to them, even when it appears the hardest thing to do. Adhere to them and watch your team grow. Break them, and watch your team crumble.

Three questions for you:

  • What are your rules and standards?
  • Are you living by them?
  • What are the consequences if people break the rules – even the star performers?

Watch a clip from Sporting Edge’s recent interview with Stuart Lancaster here

Why not book a Sporting Edge keynote to help your team to raise their game?  Contact us today

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