A Blog Post from Cindy Knight, Senior Account Manager at Masterclass Training
Sorry for using the ‘C’ word again (Collaboration)
With my ‘collaboration hat’ on and the recent Ryder Cup results, I felt compelled to put pen to paper. An exciting event for me, as an American living in the UK, I couldn’t lose either way (confess I was cheering for Team Europe … after living in the UK for 25 years seemed the right thing to do – don’t shoot me, my American friends).
The most recent high profile and widely viewed example of teamwork AKA collaboration must be the resounding win of the European Team against the much fancied and, on paper, stronger, more capable USA Team.
12 individuals from the USA and Europe lined up to face each other. Based on current form, world ranking and the number of individual high-ranking tournaments won, the USA was the overwhelming favourite to win.
But against all the odds, Europe won – very convincingly. It was actually a hammering for the USA, in boxing terms like Kylie Minogue knocking out Anthony Joshua in the fifth round having been down in the first.
It was a triumph for teamwork and collaboration over raw talent and competency. It goes to prove that a group of people, inspired by their leader, well managed and supported and working closely together can outperform a group who, on paper, are superior in every way.
Let’s look at what happened and some of the collaborative components that went into this great win. They serve as a reminder to us in the business community of the strength of collaboration.
The European Captain and Vice Captain worked closely with the golf course management at the French National to produce a course that suited the accuracy and straight hitting capabilities of their team. They got their course strategy right.
Conversely, always knowing the course would be set up to suit the European Team, the USA team and the management did not take the necessary care to prepare them well for the exam they were about to face.
Leveraging Team members strengths
The Ryder Cup format allows for 8 players automatically chosen from each team based on world ranking with the last 4 places being the ‘Captain’s Choice.’ The European Captain, Thomas Bjørn, chose well. He decided the best fit, who was well-liked and who, under pressure, had a solid Ryder Cup track record (even if their current form wasn’t so good).
The Ryder Cup format is about team players. Bjørn commented many times throughout the match that the guys know what they need to do to get the job done; again, he set out clear goals with each team member knowing exactly what they had to do to win. He simply guided them in the right direction.
Jim Furyk, the USA captain appeared to use a different set of criteria for his selections, which proved their downfall.
Europe’s captain’s choices produced 7.5 points; the USA captain’s choices produced 1.5 points.
Knowing one another
The European Team all knew each other well and got on well, they were a collaborative unit. The USA team were a group of highly talented individuals who didn’t always appear to get on well and who played as individuals, not as a team. Knowing one another’s different personality dynamics, skill sets and experiences helps to support collaboration.
Want to Build Collaboration? Watch Your Body Language!
Building organisational collaboration takes more than inclusive body language. But don’t underestimate the impact of these seemingly inconsequential behaviours. They can support or sabotage your collaborative efforts.
The body language of the European team to those who watched the match saw clearly a ‘team’ with smiles, hugs, encouragement and laughter within their team; it was a very happy unit.
The USA team revealed a much different dynamic, quite the opposite: few smiles, little or no chat with each other when walking down the fairway and, on the last day, very little team support for those still out on the course from those who had finished their rounds. Europe appeared to be a cohesive group whilst USA remained distant.
Collaboration versus Competition
The Ryder Cup is a highly competitive event requiring collaboration from each team. But it balances being competitive with being collaborative.
After their win, Team Europe was clearly ecstatic – celebrating, hugging smiling, laughing and jumping up and down, congratulating each other for their team effort.
But Team USA it was markedly different – with the team sniping at one another, criticising the team captain and moaning about who they had to play within the four balls and foursomes.
If you want to foster competition you need to ‘manage’ people in a way that gives your people the incentive to collaborate, rather than compete. This match was a wonderful example of strong collaboration as opposed to a team of highly talented individuals who simply didn’t understand, or chose to ignore, the benefits of close collaboration.
Well done Team Europe!