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The British & Irish Lions: Do they have what it takes?

Insight

07 July 2017

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Every four years, the best rugby players from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales come together to form an elite, high-performing rugby team called the British & Irish Lions. Normally when these players are on the same field, they’re playing against each other, competing for victory. Now, they must all come together if they are to call themselves Champions.

However, wearing the same jersey does not immediately create a high performing team. There’s a number of essential components required in order to work together as a successful unit.

So what does it take for a group of talented individuals to become a high performing team? These are 3 elements that we can see in the Lions:

 

1. Team Leadership – Effective leadership is fundamental. There’s no doubt that Warren Gatland (head coach) has made some controversial decisions in his Lions career, dropping Brian O’Driscoll out of the third test in the Australian 2013 tour comes to mind. O’Driscoll, the Irish centre who retired from international rugby shortly after, was dubbed as one of the ‘greatest centres of all time’1. Still, the Lions put faith in Gatland and came back to win the series 2-1. Was leaving Sam Warburton, the 2017 tour captain, out of the first test a similar choice? For these controversial decisions to land well within the team, Gatland would have had to build high levels of trust. He would have needed to empower a sense of self-belief within the whole team, that even without their ‘star players’ they could still come together and perform under pressure.

2. Team Emotion – how individuals feel about each other, the relationships and togetherness is a determining factor of a high performing team. There’s a famous Lions quote which states, “forget your nationality – you’re all Lions now”2, a great demonstration of unity. Leaving your ego at the door, knowing you are all aligned to the same vision and recognising selflessness is the key to becoming a successful Lion. Besides, sharing a room with living legends is sure to put your ego in check!

3. Psychological edge – this is one of the most important aspects of developing a high performing team. Having a psychological edge refers to the teams that can ‘bounce back’ during difficult scenarios and pull through with a victory. Having individuals with this resilient capability infused with high levels of experience is a cocktail for success. After losing the first test, we saw the Lions demonstrate this by pulling back to win the second game.

They are now 1-1 in the series, and on Saturday 8th they’ll face the ultimate test of their leadership, togetherness and psychological edge. Do they have what it takes?

 

References

1http://www.rugbyworld.com/rugby-positions/centres/brian-odriscoll-65436

2http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/22500959

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