Rugby and team work

Which sport is the best example of great teamwork? I’m sure we will all have a different opinion as to what we think is the best – from the completely different ‘teams’ employed in American Football to the pit crew and support staff in Formula 1. Whilst these are great examples, the one thing they miss out on is the interaction between the teams at any one point. Of course, we can see the exact thing replicated in our work place as individuals and teams work in ‘silo’s’ completely detached from one another. So, is there a better example in Sport of teamwork?

I believe that Rugby Union may be one that fit’s the bill better than most. For those of you who don’t know the game, there are a number of differing positions which not only require differing physical attributes, but also differing personalities. Let me give you some examples:

Prop Forward – Physical Attributes: Large heavy and bulky frame, broad shoulders, not too tall.

Personality Attributes: Dogged, determined, prefers background to limelight, never say die attitude.

Stand Off/Fly Half – Physical Attributes: Athletic frame, quick feet and hands, flexibility

Personality Attributes: Sees big picture, vision, awareness, creative problem solver

These are taken from just two of the 8 primary positions on the field. It’s also interesting that there are 8 primary positions as we always stipulate in our teambuilding activities that teams should stick to a maximum of 8 per team. The ‘forward’ and ‘back’ number breakdown also has 8 as a theme – 8 forwards and 7 backs. Excellent teamwork becomes more difficult once this ‘magic’ number is exceeded and we develop a ‘herd’ mentality where we lose interaction and debate and become followers.

As with any team, success or failure is made up of individuals that excel in their positions. Unless we have people who are ‘experts’ in their field, success is less likely. Of course, we can have a team who’s teamwork is exceptional, but the deficiencies in their basic skills won’t make up the difference.

Again, this is also true in the workplace. When a company recruits new staff, they will usually look for ‘relevant’ experience. This is to ensure a person doesn’t have to spend months learning what to do. Of course there is always a learning curve when you join a new team or organisation, from differences in culture and vision to different tactics required. However, the basics are already in place.

So, let’s just get back to Rugby Union and summarise just why I believe it’s a great example of teamwork in action:

1. Made up of two sub-teams who constantly interact but operate differently

2. Each Sub-team has to interact well to perform at highest level

3. Team members must have vastly different skill sets for the team to succeed

4. Skills in each individual must be high

5. Strong leadership needs to exist in key areas on the pitch for optimal performance

6. Off field support needs to be of the highest standard

7. Preparation is essential

8. Communication is key

How can you take your teamwork to the next level? We offer Belbin/SDI/MBTI workshops to help us understand the differences in teams and how it’s important. We also run Facilitated Activities to let you play around with the roles we play in the team and to ensure the interactions between team members is appropriate and correct. Get in touch if you want to give your team their annual MOT!


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