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Sporting heroes as business role models


John Macarfrae, director of training provider Maverick, believes the team training methods that create heroes on the sportsfield can translate into the field of work.

If you are involved in training and development you will be well versed in the concepts of team-working and the need for a balance of people with the need to get the job done.

You may never have considered that Clive Woodward’s team as a model for team-working success, and the idea of Jonny Wilkinson and the rest of the squad entering the world of management speak may seem improbable. However, in a country that lacks real heroes and role models, the team’s success in Australia has given us all something to be proud of and provides a great example of teamwork at it’s best.

We have identified four basic principles that were adopted by Clive Woodward and the England team and helped them to success in Australia. These principles, can be employed by any one of us to achieve our own team success.

Principle One: Ambition
Before every match, a team establishes a game plan and deploys tactics to win.
Despite the pre-tournament war of words and attempts by the Australians to unnerve their opponents, Clive Woodward and his men remained resolute throughout by keeping their focus strictly on the task in hand.

They were not there to take part in the tournament they were there to win. Winning this tournament took years of preparation, sacrifice and hard work. The team were not successful the first time and suffering many humiliating defeats at the hands of the New Zealand and Australian Rugby teams, to name but a few.

Being well prepared, believing in each other and having a game plan for success will allow a team to eventually win through. But consider how much sacrifice would you and your team colleagues be prepared to make in order to reach your goals?

Principle Two: Talent
Every player needs to play to their best position and be aware of their strengths and limitations.

Captain, Martin Johnson and his fellow players all have a complimentary playing style and individual skills. When those different skills sets and styles come together on the rugby field, they become an awesome, world-beating force. The true essence of team-working is recognising that everyone has a part to play in pursuing victory and no one individual should feel left out or undervalued.

Natural enthusiasm, self-confidence and a desire to win, which were displayed in varying degrees of intensity by all the players involved, were the real keys to their success in Australia.

Different players played throughout the tournament – and they were all ready to play, aware of their contribution they had to make in order to win.
Jonny Wilkinson may help out supporting a scrum down, but he is the best drop kicker in the world.

Understanding the part that you play as a team member in your own team or preferred behavioural style is key to your success. Do you acknowledge your own strengths and limitations to others?

Principle Three: Innovation
Once you have established your game plan, and have got your team firing on all cylinders, the one thing that is going to ensure victory is innovation and creativity, in other words out-playing your opponent.

A great team is one that can find different ways to win. England was determined to achieve success and did everything to get the ball through to Jonny Wilkinson for a chance of a drop-goal victory. In the end, innovation and creativity came though and won them not only the game, but the tournament.

Seeing yourself as creative and giving yourself the freedom to be creative is key to your success. Remember, ‘Can't’ is a four-letter word – Ban It!

Principle Four: Training
Looking back at the moment when Jonny Wilkinson’s last minute drop kick goal won the Rugby World Cup for England, it now all looks very easy as we saw the ball sail between the posts. It was as though once the team had got the ball to him in that position in front of goal, there was only one place where the ball was going – into the goal.

However, if you ever go and try to kick a drop goal, you will find it is not easy. Practice and review is the key here.
After every game during the tournament, whether in defeat or victory, the England team would focus on the moves and plays that were successful in those games. For the next match, they would revisit those successful plays. Eventually, all the hard work and sacrifice paid off and the team achieve their goal and dream of becoming world champions.

Like them, teams just need to keep consolidating and building and adopt a staircase climb towards goal setting. To achieve real success is the same process. It does not happen overnight.

Despite their world cup success down under, the England Rugby Team did not have any secret formula. They are ordinary people like you and I who had the right attitude, prepared well and worked hard to achieve their chosen goal.

What I really found so revealing about their success was that it doesn’t take a superhuman to achieve great heights of success. We are all in control of our own destiny. The question is, do we have the confidence, self-belief and ambition to succeed?


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