Teamwork – lessons learned from Rugby

Rugby is widely accepted as one of the best sports to showcase teamwork.

Here is why:

  • Made up of two sub-teams who constantly interact but operate differently (8 forwards and 7 backs)
  • Each sub-team has to interact well to perform at the highest level
  • Each team member must have different skill sets for the team to succeed
  • Skills in each individual must be high
  • Strong leadership needs to exist in key areas in key areas on the pitch for optimal performance
  • Off field support needs to be of the highest standard
  • Preparation is essential
  • Communication is key

Now when we look at these key areas you can understand how it can be translated into business.

Lets look at some examples:

Prop Forward – Physical Attributes: Large heavy and bulky frame, broad shoulders, not too tall.

Personality Attributes: Dogged, determined, prefers background to limelight, never say die attitude.

Stand Off/Fly Half – Physical Attributes: Athletic frame, quick feet and hands, flexibility

Personality Attributes: Sees big picture, vision, awareness, creative problem solver

These are taken from just two of the 8 primary positions on the field. The ‘forward’ and ‘back’ number breakdown also has 8 as a theme – 8 forwards and 7 backs. Excellent teamwork becomes more difficult once this ‘magic’ number is exceeded and we develop a ‘herd’ mentality where we lose interaction and debate and become followers.

As with any team, success or failure is made up of individuals that excel in their positions. Unless we have people who are ‘experts’ in their field, success is less likely. Of course, we can have a team who’s teamwork is exceptional, but the deficiencies in their basic skills won’t make up the difference.

Again, this is also true in the workplace. When a company recruits new staff, they will usually look for ‘relevant’ experience. This is to ensure a person doesn’t have to spend months learning what to do. Of course there is always a learning curve when you join a new team or organisation, from differences in culture and vision to different tactics required. However, the basics are already in place.

Given that the Rugby World Cup 2015 has just finished we should take a step back and see how we can incorporate the team ethic displayed in rugby to our businesses.

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