What makes teams pull through?

Three recent football matches again had me thinking about what we are often looking for in work.

Munster won a Heineken Cup quarterfinal  match against the odds away to Harlequins.  Leinster won against Munser in Thomond Park.  And last night I watched an underage GAA football team turn at half time to play into a strong wind, go behind and fight back to win by a couple of points.

And sport is full of these types of circumstances.  But what attracts me is that sense of togetherness, common purpose, that enables a team to overcome the odds.  Yes it requires some of the top players to prove their worth but operating in a team sense – providing leadership, shouldering responsibility, encouraging others.  And lesser players (and least lesser in the public eye) are equally important. Tactics are important and luck will also play its part.  And support from spectators should not be underestimated – although all three games were won playing away from home i.e. with relatively small, but loyal, support teams.

The recent Masters golf tournament was a similar event – even if the teams are down to the player and the trusted caddy.  But there were lessons – in terms of how both players attacked the 18th and attacked the play off holes.  Technique, commitment, trust between caddy and player and finally, I think, one being a little luckier than the other.  But all congratulations to both Angel Cabrera, the runner up, and to Adam Scott, the winner.

The purpose of this post is not to replace the tomes written previously about application of sports principles in business, etc.  But I see so many business failures which can be tracked to the absence of that team spirit – or a gradual fading of the spirit .  All of the teams mentioned have their bad days – but they do understand that feeling of pulling together, leaders encouraging, supporters working in the background, trust and respect and going the extra yard for common gain.  And the successful teams have it in more depth and more often.  And when the luck goes against them they come out fighting again.

Ireland – rugby champions of Europe!

What a drama – playing out the final game in the caulron that is the Arms Park. Ireland triumphed – just- over a brave, gallant Welsh team. As in all of the Irish games the two leaders – Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell led from the front. No other team they’ve met has had this calibre of leadership

What a drama – playing out the final game in the caulron that is the Arms Park.  Ireland triumphed – just- over a brave, gallant Welsh team.  As in all of the Irish games the two leaders – Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell led from the front.  No other team they’ve met has had this calibre of leadership.

We can rejoice.  The monkey is off the back.  The Irish team have gone to the citadel and won.  Yes they made mistakes under pressure – but they aslo played some wonderful rugby under pressure.  On balance there is some justice in the match being won by the team that scored two tries.  but the reality is that it came down to a kick here and a kick there.

There will be a temptation to read too much into what a team of rugby players – wearing the Irish jersey – has achieved.  What they have done is win five international Championship rugby matches on the trot – and been the first Irish team to go unbeaten in the Championship for 61 years.  A fantastic achievement for this group of players and all of those in the backroom who have backed them up.  It’s also a great day for all Irish supporters – who have followed Irish teams through highs and lows.  And for all the schools, clubs, players, former players, coaches and administrators.  And for all of those who have sustained injuries over the years.   To say nothing of the sponsors who should not be overlooked in touch challenging times.

A great season and a great finale to the international season.  And now we can look forward to following Munster and Leinster in the Heineken Cup.  And the Lions tour later this summer – surely today’s match will provide almost the full line up – Scotland and England players may struggle to find many slots in the Test team lineup.