How to turn your talented team into a winning team

Sir Clive Woodward discusses how to turn your talented team into a winning team through collaboration and continued education.

Many people believe that talent is key to a winning team, yet it’s my experience that talent should be seen as the starting position of a team, not the end goal. This concept is true for both sport and business; the skills I use when I’m coaching sports people are no different to those I apply within my business organisations. At the end of the day, in both settings, you are delivering results through people.

It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I recently discussed ‘developing a winning culture within business’ at the 3rd Horizon Event Series, hosted by the Executive Development Network (EDN).

While I’m not undermining the need for talent, it’s an important factor for any successful team, my opinion is that talented people alone are not enough to create a winning culture. From my experience working with the England Rugby team and the Team GB athletes at London 2012, everyone I worked with was talented – it takes more than talent alone to become a champion.

Creating a winning culture is all about the ‘teachability’ of your team. This means the ability to listen to ideas, take on knowledge, engage with the wider team and have a genuine passion for what they do. I’ve developed a system for enabling this called 3D Learning, which is broken down into three simple steps: Discover, Distil, and Do:

Discover – this is all about collating information. Gathering insights from everything you and your team does and pulling this together into categories.

Distill – these insights are then filtered down into a checklist of the most important elements of your work and that of your team. In sporting terms, these are the things that make the boat go faster.

Do – so how do you leverage those key points? You want to understand and harness these elements so you can implement them better than your competition in practice. As a key example, when it came to winning the Rugby World Cup in 2003, one of the key elements we focused on were drop goals. This gave us the ability to keep building that score – one of our key metrics. So, when it comes to business, understand what your ‘drop goal’ is and focus on it, in order to do it better than the competition.

This process is called relentless learning and is how talented people and talented teams go from doing good work to winning work. And it’s this that will set you and your business apart from the rest.

Managers and leaders should strive to nurture teams that are ready to absorb new information, keep learning and determined to do better. It’s easy to drift into a fixed mindset where learning and training no longer feel as relevant, but it is crucial to remain focused on growth, learning and development in order to create a winning culture within your team.