For a team to operate, individuals within that team must behave in certain ways and display certain characteristics. There must be an overarching culture that defines how individuals are expected to perform, however there must also be freedom for individual expression within this framework. Here I will look at a few of the individual characteristics important to the success of the team from a high performance sport perspective.
Individuals within a team must be allowed to play to their strengths. Improving weaknesses is a necessity but so is recognising individual strengths within the team framework. You don’t ask Cristiano Ronaldo to play in defence, just like you wouldn’t expect Dan Carter to play in the scrum. Yet Ronaldo must be adept at defending because he will be required to on occasion, and Dan Carter needs to be able to “mix it” with the physical side of rugby
In high performance sport there is a level of trust that those in the team will do their job. Leaders and other players don’t have the time to make sure each individual is focused and working as they should. Leaders need to support their team, but if they have to spend too much time worrying about others, it removes focus from their own responsibilities and compromises the team. Trust that those in your team are capable to do what is expected of them. If not, work hard to upskill them. It relates to the earlier point, a team must play to individual strengths and improve weaknesses.
To assist this, and to improve performance, a team must operate out of their comfort zone. Easier said than done, but if a team wants to be successful it must push its boundaries. Individuals within the team need to commit to this, and learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Those who like the safety of their comfort zone will hold a team back.
A team can also be stifled by those who fail to find solutions. The route to success is not a smooth ascent and successful teams have individuals who look for answers rather than dwelling on problems that arise.
Allied to this is an ability to control the controllables. Find solutions if there are solutions to be had, and be aware of potential difficulties you may encounter. But don’t waste time trying to solve problems you have absolutely no control over. This appears to be pointing out the obvious but there are numerous occasions when rugby players are worried about the weather. Yes, you need to prepare and know what to expect but I have yet to meet anybody that can control the weather. So why waste time worrying about it and hoping the forecast might be wrong.
In high performing teams there are a number of dynamics to how the team operates. Providing a culture that requires individuals to develop, and improve, creates a high performance environment. You then need to populate it with individuals willing to push themselves to improve. And to do so for the greater good of the team.