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Can Losers be Part of Winning Teams?

January 18, 2012

In his superb book Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, Jim Collins states that a common factor in the highest performing businesses is the make up of their teams. He says the best leaders “get the right people on the bus, in the right seats and the wrong people off the bus.”

So, if some of your team have had a run of bad luck or even failed in the past can they succeed as a team in the future?

Conventional wisdom would suggest not but history tells a different story. In the midst of America’s Great Depression in the 1930s a bereaved father whose wife had walked out on him brought an undersize, knobbly kneed and lethargic racehorse. He found a introverted cowboy living as a tramp to be its trainer; the cowboy recruited a short tempered jockey who was blind in one eye.

Despite their individual failings these three men and one horse worked together towards a shared goal of winning races. This they did, culminating in a competition dubbed the race of the century, watched by a crowd of 40,000 and listened to by a 40 million strong radio audience right across the United States. Seabiscuit’s win despite 1-4 odds against him is said to have given the American people a renewed sense of hope after 10 years of economic depression.

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