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What Can the Rugby World Cup Teach Us About Team Work?

Yesterday Milton Keynes was host to the France v- Canada game. In fact the Canadian team was in Stony Stratford (home to Russell HR) earlier in the day. Kirsty and I both whimpered a bit when we discovered they’d been so close and we’d missed seeing them!

There have been some stunning games so far in this World Cup, none more so that the England-Wales game at Twickenham last Saturday. Both teams worked so hard and so well. We saw some blindingly good play. Whoever lost in a game like that, it was a wholly honourable defeat. My partner is Welsh (and I am half Welsh) so no prizes for guessing who we supported. It was nail biting stuff, especially towards the end of the game. When Gareth Davies scored that late try and Dan Biggar converted it the old man and I were catapulted into a frenzy of delight. Such was the dancing, jumping and whooping that Stan the Cat decamped. (He must be a footie supporter!)

Successful business teams need a high level of personal performance to achieve their goals. Great rugby can teach us great lessons about teamwork and achieving against the odds.

  • Set a clear vision. If you don’t know where you’re going you won’t get there. And if you do somehow go in the right direction, how will you know if you’ve arrived? You waste time and resources if you’re not clear about what you want to achieve.
  • Make sure you have the right people in the right place. An effective team is built of individuals doing the right thing, in the right way at the right time. Good teams are not an accident. They have to be developed.
  • In an effective team, members will freely communicate their ideas and concerns in a constructive fashion. Other team members will listen carefully and respond appropriately. Dissenting views will be properly considered.
  • Good teams learn from their mistakes. We see mistakes as a learning opportunity here. Things will go wrong. That’s part of life. Review mistakes and see what you could have done differently or better. Build a culture of team support, personal accountability and learning to turn mistakes to success in the future.
  • Celebrate your successes but keep your eye on the ball. Sorry – this is a rugby inspired piece so I suppose mention of a ball was inevitable at some point. There will be successes along the way. Celebrate your achievements and build the team further, but keep focused on the next goal.
  • Be ambitious in your goal setting. Goals should be achievable but challenging.
  • Deal with pressure as a group. Everybody, whether in in sport or business, faces pressures and challenges and it isn’t always easy to deal with. A good team will support its members through the difficult patches. More experienced colleagues can often help others. They know the risks, and hazards and can draw on their greater knowledge and experience to help other team members get through them.
  • Good team leaders lead by example. They work hard. They communicate well. They have a high personal standard of integrity. If you want to achieve change in the business you have to build the trust of your team to make it happen. Follow the great rugby captains. Say what you’re going to do and then do it. Good team leaders can make a huge difference to the motivation of the people around them by leading by example.

After such a close game and all the injuries they had, nobody thought Wales could pull it off last Saturday; but the passion of the team pulled them through and they managed the most incredible win. The may not win over-all in the end, I don’t know. But to date they’ve displayed great team work and are a great team. Bechgyn pob lwc!

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