Turning around underperforming teams

underperforming teamsTurning around underperforming teams – the Stuart Lancaster way

If you lead a Project or Sales team, you could do no better than to look at the methods, beliefs and philosophies of Stuart Lancaster, Head Coach of the England Rugby Union team. Here is a man from a humble farming background; never an outstanding player, who took the reins of the national team following the shambles of the 2011 World Cup, both on and off the field.

In 2 years he has turned round the team so completely they are favourites for the Grand Slam! They have beaten comprehensively the world’s best team New Zealand, and are one of the favourites for the next World Cup in 2015. How has he managed to achieve so much? Business, as in sport (perhaps more so) is about results, so if your beliefs and methods are to be taken seriously, they have to be “golden”. They must generate the results you desire.

If you manage a talented, knowledgeable team (the England team of 2011 were highly experienced) and not getting the most out of them, consider Stuart’s beliefs. He has to recruit the right players and manage them to get the best from them, particularly under pressure.

To me, there are 4 key requirements that he demonstrates in abundance:

1. Trust – don’t rely on the old guard to take the team forward, recruit young people with their careers still ahead of them. They will trust you and you must trust them.

2. Patience – a virtue. People will take time to get used to your culture and your style so allow for it. This is a vital commodity even with extreme pressure to get results.

3. No Blame – people will make mistakes. Accept it but ensure you both learn from it.

4. COLLABORATION – make it easy for people to share and make it just as easy to ask for support.

Lancaster seems comfortable to allow his players to make some mistakes, and thus potentially learn from them, even at top level. It takes bravery from the coach to be patient and allow them this room to grow, while taking the flak. How patient are you?

Interestingly, Stuart Lancaster is speaking about the need for the right levels of emotional intelligence in the current England team. He sees it as key to get the right team performance as well as individual performance, and as such is continuing the work of Clive Woodward (see my last blog). I have long been interested in the value of EI in great business leaders. For example, a high sense of self-esteem without arrogance, empathy but not too high, and adaptability.

I am indebted to David Turner, Principal Lecturer in Sports Coaching at the University of Hertfordshire and his student Bhavesh who have shared with me their analysis of Lancaster’s coaching beliefs. There are 29 (contact me if you would like me to send you a copy of them), but in summary – understand yourself; know your philosophy; know your values; be consistent; work hard…

If you would like guidance in turning your team around, please contact me, it’s a fascinating journey that doesn’t just deliver quantifiable results but can improve morale, make team members easier to manage, and have more fun.

Ron Knox from the McQuaig Psychometric System - underperforming teamsAbout the author: Ron Knox is an Associate of the McQuaig Psychometric System (brought to you by Holst). To contact Ron email ronknox@mcquaig.co.uk

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For more information about the McQuaig Psychometric System visit: www.mcquaig.co.uk and call 0203 111 9292