VOICE January 2016 - page 6

Karen Frost
Director of Coaching Values Based Leadership
Graham Smith
Assistant Coach of England’s World Cup Rugby Cup
winning side
From there, it is important to maintain the strong emo-
tional links that enable a team to perform, learn from
each other, trust each other and reap the benefits of suc-
cess. For us, when you are part of a team that achieves
high performance and a team that is successful and out-
performs other teams, then there is a feeling of calmness.
Interestingly, this calm feeling is an emotion that single
and mixed gender teams talk about, so it is something
that we would consider to be a universal measurement
of high performance. In this environment decisions are
made easily and mutual trust is high throughout the
team. People know when they have been to this level;
once felt it is never forgotten
and it is something that is
continually strived for.
In all contexts, teams are bro-
ken up. Companies re-
organise, mergers and acqui-
sitions happen. Staff turn-
over is a natural part of career
development. In sport, cer-
tainly at an international level
the drivers for team change
are different. Player form,
injury and age are often de-
ciding factors. A game like
rugby requires high levels of
fitness which are difficult to
maintain over long periods of
time and as players get older. So the skill for business
leaders and for sports coaches alike is to know how to
get movement in team development. Once this is under-
stood and accepted, then it is about using
the right set of skills to move teams towards
high performance. Good interventions
like team building events and on-going
team meetings help. The key to getting
the trust you need is about having hon-
est conversations where nothing is left
unsaid and individuals feel safe and se-
cure in their environment. Then they
will start to perform. And remember,
because teams change, this is a continu-
al process, something that needs to be
focused on regularly otherwise the
openness and honesty in the team di-
lutes, then the trust starts to disappear and teams find
themselves slipping back and eventually becoming a
group of individuals again.
In sport it is well respected and understood that teams
need to have time together. For all women teams the
impact of a week away, off-site and all living together is
an essential part of the build-up to major championships.
What happens for women as opposed to all men teams is
that women can be emotional with each other and they
come away from such events feeling like they have a
sense of family, that they belong. This transfers to the
playing field. In business, team events are generally well
understood and well respected. But in some business
sectors this is not the norm and you will hear people be-
ing resistant to ‘all this touchy feely stuff’, often asking,
‘can’t we just get on
with the job?’. But in
our experience the
road to high perfor-
mance is slow and of-
ten fraught with chal-
lenges if team manag-
ers don’t spend the
time and energy pur-
through interventions.
When team managers
do commit to a well-
designed team event,
they are pleasantly
surprised by the bond-
ing that takes place and the improvement in the team
performance as a result.
So our message is clear. Women need to bond, to get
that emotional connection before they will fully trust
their colleagues or their team mates before the team can
even consider being high performance. For men, that
bonding may not need to happen, but they still need to
trust and respect each other if they are going to out-
perform other teams. By definition, if you have mixed
teams then you do need to do the bonding or else people
are starting from different places emotionally. And what
we are all aiming for is that calm place, where we are
truly high performers.
Our Favourite Videos and Articles
England Women’s Rugby Team participating in a
team binding training exercise.
Graham Smith
1,2,3,4,5 7,8
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