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Leading Gold Medal Teams

July 18, 2012

As London greets the world’s best teams there’s a great deal that leaders of workplace teams can learn from their example.

Paul Deighton

As CEO of LOCOG Paul Deighton has said that one of his main tasks has been to "maintain everybody's focus, morale, energy and belief". Do all CEOs do this?

Here are three of the things leaders of workplace teams could learn:

The GB swimming team have attributed their success in the 2008 Beijing games to the importance they placed on having fun together. By the time they’d been selected there was little more they could do to improve their athletic performance so Team GB coach Dennis Pursley focused on building a sense of fun into the team, breaking down internal disputes and rivalry that could hinder performance. It worked, and the Team GB swimmers came home with six medals.

One Big Goal
And it’s not just the athletes who are demonstrating outstanding team work. Paul Deighton, CEO of LOCOG has been working towards this single event for six years, building a team from 100 to 6000. Throughout the process he claims one of his main tasks has been to “maintain everybody’s focus, morale, energy and belief”. Despite the fact that in a few weeks the LOCOG team will be disbanded, this audacious goal of successfully staging the games is an incredible motivating force. Team members are sacrificing their weekends, summer holidays and personal lives to play their part, all the time knowing that the stars of the show will be the athletes and their role will not only go unnoticed but will also soon be redundant.

The thousands of people who have witnessed the Olympic Torch Relay visiting so many parts of the UK can’t fail to have been moved by this demonstration of the key Olympic value of ‘encouraging participation in sports’. In all walks of life there will be heroes, but organisations don’t exist simply to benefit a few high profile individuals. The most successful teams have a clear sense that they do what they do for the greater good and their behaviours are determined by a shared set of values.

Contrast this to the mood in long standing institutions such as Barclays Bank, an organisation founded in 1690 but recently discredited by LIBOR rate fixing. And it’s not the first time this institution has faced controversy – in the 1980s the bank was boycotted for its involvement in South Africa during the apartheid regime, since then there have been accusations of involvement with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and money laundering alongside extraordinary bonuses paid to Bob Diamond. This is the same Bob Diamond who, when asked by the Treasury Select Committee if he could recall the organisation’s Quaker founding principles, admitted he could not. John Mann (MP) kindly reminded him: “Honesty, integrity and plain dealing”.

If you would like to run a team building event with an Olympic theme and message do look at our Olympic team building event: Office Games.

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