I find that there are striking comparisons between business and sporting excellence, particularly when managers or leaders observe the individual and collective cultural dynamics. If there is not humility, respect, honesty and integrity; the team falls apart and leads to significant performance issues. From my perspective, I think the overriding factor of driving success; building great teams and a great culture, is above all else to treat your team how you would like to be treated.


I admit readily to anyone who asks, I am a self-diagnosed sports tragic. I enjoy the ability to become entrenched in the sporting culture, be it; rugby league, rugby union, swimming, golf, snooker, tennis, Moto GP, athletics, cycling, the list goes on much to the chagrin of my adoring wife. What intrigues me above all else is the relationship and dynamics between the coach and the protégé; the captain and the team; the team or individual and their ability to process instructions, furthering the coach’s ideas creating an ideal sporting reality, therefore translating onto the field or court.

I think it is this team dynamic that allows the underdog to overcome the supposed mountain of challenges in front of them. It allows the dominant and best performers to continue to amaze us with their individual and team achievements. Recent examples of this can be seen by Jonathan Thurston and his beloved underdog Cowboy’s winning the NRL Grand Final. Who will ever forget Michelle Payne winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup? It has to be said that whilst Richie MacCaw’s All Blacks have proven their dominance again, I for one am glad that Richie has retired as it gives us Wallabies supporters’ a faint hope of the Wallabies winning the Bledisloe Cup. I applaud and admire Roger Federer and Serena Williams as they both try to win another Grand Slam. Personally I hope they can both achieve many more Grand Slam titles.

Much like business, sport is a cut-throat industry. If the team underperforms the impact upon the team as well as its supporters is significantly negative. If this hypothetical team experiences poor dynamics upon the field in front of supporters their following becomes less inclined to follow the game, therefore leading to a drop in revenue for the club, for the sport, as well as for the individuals in the team. This domino effect can be superimposed into a business environment in relation to a drop in sales due to little cohesion across the business. This drop in sales leads to shareholder frustration and possible disenfranchisement among the shareholders, owners and workers. Therefore in my opinion team dynamics are the heartbeat of every business be it sport or not.

Strategy on the field or court is another important aspect of sporting excellence, these strategic goals allow for the team or individual to become active within an inclusive environment that encourages growth. Leaders are tasked with defining the strategy, setting the goals and implementing these within the team. At all times keeping in mind the individual motivators and individual goals to align this with the overall team objective.

I believe that for this cohesive work experience to come into fruition there are contributing factors that must be observed. The leader, coach, manger; must act in a way that respects others leading to a more efficient team. They must create an honest environment that allows the individuals to express their views therefore creating a healthy team that works in a unified manner. They must maintain a positive and upbeat working environment where team and individual performance are recognised as well as rewarded.

Poor performance of a team or individual is often blamed on other factors, this drop in performance is hard to turn around especially if the trust, respect and honesty has evaporated. Finger pointing, outbursts and general lethargy envelope the team which only makes turning things around much harder. Form slumps are typical of broader issues within the team and require a good hard look at the underlying causes.

I believe that more often than not the performance issues are simply because the manager or team leader does not treat people the way he or she would like to be treated themselves. Sounds simple enough, not a complex issue to resolve. Unfortunately, I speak to candidates at all levels and frequently told the same reason for them looking to move on.

It is not all doom and gloom, after many years of working with local and global companies, working with candidates and hiring managers we have learned a thing or two and are happy to discuss either team or individual goals.