16
Dec '13

The I’s have it!

There’s no “I” in team. Oh yes there is….there it is, it’s hiding in the “A”.

For years executive coaches have been preaching that team work is a collaboration of individuals contributing equally towards a common goal; all pull together, no shining stars. Individuals?

But is that the only sort of team, and of course that may be just the sort of team you need, especially if you are “coxing an Eight” in the Olympics? After all, you couldn’t have the rowers on one side much stronger than the others, or you’d go round in circles! Equals.

If you manage a rugby union team, you need everyone working in perfect harmony, replacements need to be “identikit” Centurion clones; the defensive line has to be strong, one weak link, one missed tackle, one slow joiner and you lose a try; think of what made Clive Woodward a Sir and that wonderful World Cup winning side, they laid their lives on the line for each other in that final – one common goal, one common game-plan, win that game and immortality beckons.  It may be harsh to argue but that side didn’t really have individual flair, just well drilled people, each doing their job to perfection – even Jonny Wilkinson and his metronomic kicking. As one.

A top four Premier League football manager, on the other hand, will want his team to be so familiar with each other’s natural style of play, as if there is some telepathic link between players for that hint of genius, a ghosted flick or a deft run that will unpick the most stubborn of defences; something Liverpool clearly have in their SaS (Suarez and Sturridge) and Spurs clearly currently lack in their own collection of expensive individuals. Together.

But then think of Botham’s Ashes; that 1981 side started as a right motley crew. Botham sacked and under-performing, a replacement captain many thought was not worth his place as a batsman in Mike Brearley, and odds of 500-1 against an England win at Headingley. Enter the biggest Sir “I” in any team, as in Sir Ian Beefy Botham, Three Lions on his chest, a mane of golden hair, never say die and a reinvigorated confidence fueled by the skipper’s wise words. The rest is history. Management.

Together; Individuals; Equals; As one; Management. That’s what makes a TEAM.

I put it to you that not only is there an “I” in many teams, but an “I” can be essential, a game changer – think Messi, Bale, Ronaldo, Aguero, Botham, Gareth Edwards (do you remember the greatest try ever scored). Basketball has Michael Jordan, Baseball has Joe DiMaggio, NFL has Tom Brady, and Ice Hockey has Wayne Gretzky. How England’s cricketers could use the next Sir “I” in Australia right now and who would remember Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen without Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?

In your office, think of your top-performing salesman busting their target to allow you to meet yours.  If you are Invesco, there is the awful realisation that star fund manager Neil Woodford’s departure in 6 months time (April 2014) has already cost you over £2bn in funds invested. Likewise Angela Ahrendts’ departure from Burberry made a big splash wiping £0.5bn off market value. On the other side of the equation, the announcement of Steve Ballmer’s departure caused Microsoft shares to rally 7.5% in one trading day – equivalent to billions of market cap – and made him $769m that same day!

Who says there’s no “I” in team!

So this Christmas, think what an “I” could do for your team, raise a glass to all the Sir “I”s out there and make sure you hire an “I” or two in 2014.

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