Last weekend was a fantastic one for Britain in a sporting sense. With Andy Murray’s win, Lewis Hamilton doing what he always does and Chris Froome battling conditions and a mountain climb that mere mortals can only look at in awe. However perhaps the most striking image for me was of Christiano Ronaldo in the final of the European Championships. This was not just as a massive sports fan (Did you guess?), but as somebody with a keen interest in coaching, leadership, motivational skills and the parallels between sport and the workplace.
Picture credit ‘wonker’ under licence from Creative Commons
Christiano has in the past been depicted as a bit of a loner, somebody who puts personal achievement above all else. Now I don’t know if this is true, but my observations have been that you have more chance of Jeremy Corbyn organising the Christmas party for his Labour parliamentary colleagues than you would of Christiano passing the ball to a teammate when there is a chance of scoring a goal. But in Sunday’s final, we saw a different side to this hugely talented footballer.
After fifteen minutes of play, he was leaving the field in tears as an injury curtailed his involvement. He cut a sad figure as he disconsolately hobbled down the tunnel, clearly upset. Then in the second half, he returned with the rest of the team but now with his tracksuit on and completely engaged, re-energised and acting as if he were an assistant manager. His demeanour had completely changed. He was animated, urging on his teammates. He shouted advice from the touchline and cajoled them when they looked tired or dispirited. His team were inspired and although second best for most of a dull game they dug in and won a hard fought contest.
It did make me think about the power of one person to inspire others with his passion and desire to win. At the end of the day it may not have made a huge difference to the result but it must have been a boost to his team who overcame the odds to claim the title.
As a way to illustrate the importance of attention to results over status and ego, Patrick Lencioni in his book the 'The five dysfunctions of a team' fable, uses the example of a college basketball coach. This coach chose not to select his best player because he was only interested in his own performance rather than that of the team. The result was that the team flourished and eventually the dropped team member returned as a better player. Insightful coaches and good workplace managers are able to make that star performer a ‘team player’. However, this may not be possible and your best player actually only adds value for their own benefit. Coaching can be a powerful tool in terms of shining a light for individuals to see their role in the team. Similarly, when individualistic behaviour causes friction or conflict, mediation can offer a route to bring that person back in the fold for the benefit for all concerned.
So as my star of the week - stand up Mr Christiano Ronaldo – winner and team player.
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As part of the Focal Point Training team, I draw on my extensive HR experience of providing specialist input on all aspects of employee relations, change management and organisational development. When I am not training or coaching, you will find me taking my cocker spaniel for country walks, in the kitchen cooking (making a mess as my wife describes it) or attending a local pub quiz. https://uk.linkedin.com/in/andrewrundle