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Team Building – Communication and Preparation are Key

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” — Phil Jackson

Over the past three weeks in particular, the Irish rugby team under coach Joe Schmidt has been demonstrating the power of working together towards a common goal. The history of Irish rugby is one of inconsistency. Great wins have been too often followed by insipid performances, interspersed with that most Irish of beasts, the moral victory. What we are now seeing is a completely new attitude. Schmidt places great emphasis on the value of small details in the context of the bigger picture.

Most particularly he has communicated his vision clearly and very effectively. Each player is informed precisely about what is expected of him, not just on the field, but also in terms of the preparation needed to make him eligible for consideration. To persuade a disparate group of ambitious and competitive young men to buy so fully into a course of action and the philosophy behind it demonstrates magnificent communication skills. It also demonstrates clarity of vision from the outset.

Just as in the world of business results are not decided over 80 minutes. Preparation is key, and clear effective communication is essential to ensure appropriate preparation. Schmidt has demonstrated the importance of keeping each player fully informed of his responsibilities. Even players dropped from squads are told what is required to improve their chances of getting back in. This brings me to the key point of this piece. All feel involved because they are acknowledged and respected.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Carolyn O’Hara cited a study by the Catalyst Research Centre for Advancing Leader Effectiveness. This study of 1,500 people showed that in being included, and being seen as unique human beings people felt a sense of belonging. This in turn leads to productivity levels, loyalty, and work output being boosted. Encouraging each person to bring their individual talents, perspectives and experiences into the mix expands the options available and enriches the team. Clear and constructive engagement filters through what is useful and valuable. By exemplifying the values and demonstrating them consistently in practice the leader strengthens the team. The team then derives better results, which in turn leads to greater commitment to the team ethos and even better performance.

To read the HBR article:

Joseph McGuire is the owner of Clearsight Communications who provide personal evaluation services and training in the areas of senior level recruitment/promotion, negotiations, sales and HR. Individual consultation sessions are available both in person and via Skype. He is also in demand for group presentations, private functions and conferences. For further information email: