Happy Teams are more Productive

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Happy teams are more productive. It’s mid-August 2016 and between them Laura Trott & Jason Kenny have hoovered up a number of Olympic medals in various cycling events. Between them they have now won 10 Gold medals.  The story doesn’t stop there however, Laura and Jason are engaged to be married in September 2016.  As key members of the Team GB cycling team they are perhaps two people who really get on.

The GB cycling team pride themselves on their approach to competitiveness and addressing every aspect of their game. The so-called ‘marginal gains‘ approach sees them addressing each and every advantage that can be possibly taken.  Much of the sport of cycling is concerned with ensuring the mechanics, i.e. the bike, is setup to its absolute optimum best.  In so doing though they could be excused for overlooking the human element. Clearly the athletes must be super fit, and that also fits into the mechanics of cycling, but what about the frame of mind of the athletes.  There is a plethora of sports psychology research which indicates that gains can also be made by mentally rehearsing the race before the competitor actually sets foot in the stadium.

It’s clear from interviews with Trott and Kenny that they are in a different space from the other competitors. Before going into their respective final events both confessed to being “ecstatic” and although “very tired” both are “strangely calm”. Neither athlete professed to any nerves whatsoever. Essentially they had each other’s backs. Although competing independently and at different times, they were absolutely supporting each other.

Lesson for Leaders

Kim Cameron and his colleagues at the University of Michigan have conducted research in the area of “Positive and Virtuous Practices” amongst team, and it concludes that team can excel in a number of areas, if teams:

  • Care for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends;
  • Provide support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling;
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes;
  • Inspiring one another at work;
  • Emphasising the meaningfulness of the work, and.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust & integrity.

Clearly, as a couple, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny demonstrate the behaviours.  There is a real lesson here though. If you’re happy you perform, both at the individual level and as a team.


Post by Pete Wilson

Pete has worked in the technology and business change space for over 30 years. He's worked globally for large public sector and governmental bodies and for large private sector multinationals across numerous industry sectors.

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