The Ultimate Transformation: Insights from the England Cricket Team

Cricket ball on the grass

By Adam Wilson, Client Solutions Consultant


Just 72 hours after winning the Cricket World Cup Final in what has been described as the greatest one-day game ever, Lane4 were lucky enough to get the opportunity to tour one of the world’s most prestigious high-performance environments – Lords – accompanied by the England Cricket Team’s Lead Sport Psychologist, David Young.


Over lunch, David shared his reflections from the four-year transformation journey from which the team’s World Cup victory had evolved. What follows are a collection of standout messages that not only enabled England to recover from going out in the knockout stages of the 2015 World Cup to becoming 2019 World Cup Champions, but which might also help you to transform your leaders, teams and business.

1. Stay true to your strategy, even when performance tests it, and expose your people to ‘why’ it’s important regularly – planning specifically for the long term. Also don’t be afraid to remember what things used to be like (pre-strategy), or what things ‘could be like if…’


2. Recognise performance influencers and define each individual’s ‘performance identity’ when things are going well. Be sure to revisit these principles when encountering setbacks.


3. ‘Knowing someone very well does not replace good profiling’. Use personality profiling on an individual level to get the best from your people. ‘Work with the grain’ to enable optimum performance and consider what someone’s strength could look like if it went wrong or was overused. This provides your people with some ‘wriggle room’, whilst ensuring that performance is managed.


4. Simulation-based testing can be a fantastic way of replicating high pressure situations. Focus your psychological and performance provision on performance under pressure – particularly during times of change.


5. Be willing to discuss your ‘crystal ball of doom’. What could stop you from winning your equivalent to the World Cup and remember that you can’t demonstrate courage without an element of fear.


6. Get your people used to your expectations and be consistent, for example ‘we expect to win’ and ‘we’re the best team in the world’. Furthermore, remove the fear of not performing by focusing on improving, rather than winning or losing.


7. Ruthlessly prioritise and know that you can’t please everyone, whilst appreciating that you can demonstrate empathy. Also know your own support network and access this as necessary.


8. Celebrate diversity and create a culture that is genuinely you. Whilst you might not win every time, how do you want to perform, and how are you going to reward and recognise your people when they buy into the process? Consider what your acid test for culture is.


9. Acknowledge yours and others’ feelings and guide culture change through those who are influential – ideally at their own pace. Acknowledge when things are different – for better or worse – and get to know the most influential person for each member of your team. Work through them when appropriate and possible.


10. ‘Spot the opportunity in crisis’. Commit to being courageous when things aren’t going well and see setbacks as a catalyst for positive change.


11. Be proactive in the nature of your interventions, for example a proactive wellbeing group, and avoid having meetings for the sake of it. Instead, come together when there is a genuine reason to connect.


If you’re interested in understanding more on how to implement these suggestions to transform your organisation, teams or leaders, I’d love to discuss these insights further. Please do drop me a note at [email protected] to continue the conversation.