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Case Studies

Team work and leadership in a hostile environment

Examples from the 1996-1997 BT Round-the-world yacht race

In business, meetings often do not start on time, appointments are rarely punctual and colleagues are frequently late. The oceans do not wait or accept excuses – nor do most successful teams.

The BT Global Challenge was a demonstration of human endeavour at its highest. The highs and lows, the successes and failures and the achievement of completing such a voyage can be directly related to the behaviour and skills of the crews and their skippers. The same could be said of organisations that perform to a high level in today’s complex, competitive and dynamic business environment.

Humphrey Walters, writing in Business First magazine

The Business of Winning – How to create winning teams and organisations

Examples from the England Rugby Team success in the 2003 World Cup

Situations don’t give great performances – people do.

Clive is very good at this. He realised very early on that he had to create an environment for the people – the players. It was the players who would do it.

Perpetual optimism is a multiplier: Am I excited? Am I a possibility thinker?

This is something that Clive is bloody good at. He always knew England could win the World Cup. Everyone has seen videos of everyone else playing so you have to think the unthinkable. That’s one of the reasons why he is such a delight to work with. If you come up with a new idea he’ll say “Wow, that’s interesting” rather than “That will never work”.’

Never neglect details.

He is incredibly strong on detail and the critical non-essentials. An example of this was the idea to change all our kit at half-time. This was something I got from watching Pete Sampras and thinking here’s this hairy guy changing on centre court and bloody hell he suddenly looks as fresh as a daisy. And Sampras almost always picked the moment when his opponent thought he was about to win‘.

‘We had quite a lot of problems getting the players to accept this idea. We used it for the first time in the Stade de France and when England came out for the second half the French looked at them and thought “never have they changed their whole squad?” Whatever has happened in the first half, psychologically it makes you look fresh and it makes you look bigger. In business and in sport it’s about doing 50 things one per cent better.’

You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.

‘I said early on, “Clive, a skill we have to learn is how to beg forgiveness.” You have to do things and then wait for people to moan and complain. If you ask permission people will only tell you that you can’t do it‘.

‘A good example is training at Twickenham. We had to train at the ground we were going to play on and even though there was a huge furore we went and did it, begged forgiveness, and we were forgiven, and now it’s standard procedure.’

Great leaders are great simplifiers.

‘Clive is very good at making a complex thing simple. I produced the phrase “think with ruthless simplicity”. At the start, things were too complicated. If you have the training and ability then you can cope with dislocated expectations (eg mistakes and poor refereeing decisions). A great team can cope with poor performance. They win when playing badly‘.

(From “The Business of Winning” published in The Observer, 30 November 2003)

Managing and Motivating Top Performers

Managing and Motivating Top Performers

Examples of essential inspirational leadership behaviours for superior performance
“The most important part of every business is to know what ought to be done.”

Lucius Columell

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