I have long been interested in the High Performance podcast (https://www.thehighperformancepodcast.com/) series hosted by Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes, in which they draw on interviews with leading sportspeople and entrepreneurs to uncover the hidden principles that drive them to to success. The insights that these high performers give are varied enough to make you realise that there is no one way to succeed, and that anyone can become better at what they do by adapting certain life principles.
Over the past week I chose to listen to the thoughts of two particular sportsmen that I admire for various reasons – Dan Carter, the legendary All Black rugby player, and Paul McGinley, the Irish golfer who famously led Europe to Ryder Cup victory in 2014. They were both fascinating in their own way, but what struck me was the different views that they had on how to ensure success in a team scenario.
Dan Carter put a huge emphasis on the importance of the team, that each All Black that played needed to sacrifice their individuality to the needs of the team performance. The coaches would tolerate mistakes from players where they could see that the error was made trying to help the team. Showboating, or being a “dickhead”, would not be accepted by anyone in and around the All Black community. Being a good human was a prerequisite to being an All Black.
Paul McGinley, despite the Ryder Cup being one of the only team events in the golfing calendar, held on to the belief that his team success was a result of an emphasis on the individual. He argued that world class golfers rose to their status because they thrived on being individuals, and so to get the best out of them for the team he needed to support them on a singular basis, and not pressurise them into thinking about letting the team down. He felt that motivating the ego of these golfing superstars was how he was able to achieve peak performance for team success.
Ultimately both were able to be part of successful teams, but the way to achieve this success was from empahsising different principles. The safe, supportive environment that Dan Carter thrived in allowed him to know that all his team mates would be there to support him: whilst Paul McGinley, by coaching indivuduals behind the scenes and dealing with personality clashes, was able to bring out the best performance of sportsmen used to a competitive sporting environment.
Whether we like it or not, we all have to be in teams in all parts of our lives. They can be a source of both joy and frustration. It is worth reflecting on the part we play in these teams. Are you so focussed on your individual needs that they always take precedence over those of your team mates? How do your teams work best – be it at home with the family, at work with your colleagues, or during your leisure time with your friends? What are the values that you bring to these teams?