“Building winning teams is a game of inches”
On Friday we held our first DMAT leadership conference. The theme of the conference was ‘World Class Performance – Winning Teams’ and we got off to a great start with a talk from Humphrey Walters. Humphrey know about winning teams. He worked with Clive Woodward to turn the English rugby team into a World Cup winning team and Sam Allardyce to help Bolton Wanderers FC stay in the premiership. He also sailed around the world (the wrong way) as a part of the BT global challenge team. From the Olympics we all remember the slogan ‘inspiring a generation’ and the name ‘Team GB‘. These were both Humphrey’s ideas. So, he has a strong track record of success. You can read more about him here.
Here are some attributes of winning teams from Humphrey’s talk:
- “Focus on ruthless simplicity & world class basics” – know what’s going to make the biggest difference and focus relentlessly on this. Stop doing things that are going to waste time and stop you from focusing on what counts. So for schools, what are the aspects of teaching that, based on evidence, have the best chance of success? Focus on this.
- “Focus on the critical non-essentials” – what are the things that no one else is doing, because they are not essential, but you think will give your team the extra edge? Make these essential to your team.
- “Create a winning environment and pride in the badge” – create an environment that makes the people in it believe they are world class and have pride in the organisation. So for schools, this means a safe, tidy and orderly environment, with high expectations in terms of uniform and behaviour.
- “Concentrate on what you can control” – in education there are so many things that are out of our control e,g, parents and funding. So, we should focus on the things we can control e.g. curriculum, teaching, assessment and behaviour.
- “Look after each other and tell people how good they are” – invest time in your team, check how they are and look after them. A part of this is celebrating the strengths of your team and making sure we tell people when they do a good job. Based on his time as a crew member on a yacht, that sailed around the world, Humphrey says that a winning team should ‘be serious on top and have fun down below’ – work really hard but have a lot of fun.
- “Do 100 things 1% better” – rather than trying to make big changes, focus on doing the basics that little bit better.
- “Spend more time on the successes than the failures” – of course it’s important to look at what fails, why it fails and learn from it, but it is more important to focus on what’s working, do more of it and do it even better!
- “No dumb ideas” – create a culture within the team, where everybody feels safe to put forward an idea. It might just be the idea that results in further improvement.
- “Dream big but celebrate the mini victories” – set your aspirations high and believe that you can be the best in the world (somebody has to be!) However, it’s important to celebrate the small victories on the way – and congratulate the team for achieving these milestones.
- “Leadership is key, but followership is just as important” – good teams will have robust discussions about the best way forward. However, once an approach is decided upon, everybody sticks to it, supports it and gives it their all. Furthermore, team members should need to be told just once and then do the job really well.
- “Look for the next gap in the wave” – always be looking out for the next change that is going to get you that next bit of improvement – no matter how small.
- “Create winning language and behaviours and refer to them all the time” – agree the language and behaviours you want to see as a team and stick to it. This also means agreeing the language and behaviours you don’t want see e.g. ‘low or high ability’, ‘could we…’, ‘try to…’
Here’s a great summary of Humphrey’s approach to building a winning team.
And here’s a video of Humphrey: