What can the business world learn from professional sports teams?

 

2943There have been two national team sports contests in the last week that I have been lucky enough to watch. I’ve now had time to reflect on the contest and what I saw. And have been wandering how the performance of these teams reflects team performance in the workplace.

The England Rugby Union team played Australia and won.

It was a great contest both teams were fully committed to the outcome, both played with purpose and both teams believed they could win right until the end. Even though the result was disappointing for Australia, they have a team they can be really proud of. The Australians will look at the result, learn from it and will no doubt improve – England beware.

The English football team played Iceland in European football championships and lost. Both teams were playing in a professional contest where the result mattered.

The Iceland team seemed to have had plan and stuck to it. They played with confidence, had belief in themselves, made adjustments to their game plan and kept their focus. The quality of the execution was excellent. They had support, praise and recognition and they delivered a result they were proud of.

The English football team appeared to have no plan, or forgot the plan, or were making it up as they were playing. They lost focus, purpose and confidence and the mental anguish showed. The quality of their output deteriorated no matter how hard they tried as individuals.

The skills of the English team members were known to be world class but they could not execute. They failed to deliver results. And it was not about pay – the English team probably had some of the most expensive players in the world!

For Iceland the sum of the parts was greater than the whole! For England the sum of the parts was less than the whole.

What do you think causes teams to perform badly? And what can you learn by watching professional sports teams perform that you can apply in your workplace?