Setting the Pace, how a business should act like Team Sky Part 1

Often sports are used as analogies for business and rightly so, there are many links between a successful team and a successful business.

I have just come back from my company’s annual conference, Bibby Financial Services, and our HR Director who is a keen cycling fan used Team Sky’s success winning the 100th Tour de France to convey the core values and direction for the business and each of our roles in making the business a success in the future.

As many of you will know, Chris Froome continued the success of the team in 2013 after Sir Bradley Wiggins won Britain’s first tour 12 months earlier. Given the success of Team GB at the London Olympics was their success any surprise? Perhaps not, but what took them to the finishing line?

  • Know your role and own it

Team Sky is not just Froome or Wiggins, it is a group of exceptional riders and support staff each of which have specific key roles to play, be that a super domestique, a technician or the support team who keep an eye on exactly what the competition is doing. Here is an example with Richie Porte, Team Sky’s super domestique:

In the final six kilometers of the l’Alpe d’Huez’s second ascent — after officials closed feeding from the team cars — Froome lifted his right hand for help. He needed sugar and he needed it quickly to avoid cracking.

Porte dropped back, took gels from the team car and gave them to his suffering leader. They both received a 20-second time penalty and 200 Swiss-Franc fine for the late race feed, but it was worth it. If Froome had gone into a deficit, he could have lost minutes to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) instead of the 1:06 he did cede to the Colombian.

Froome regained his composure and followed Porte’s wheel to the finish line. They put time on second overall Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).

“I was low on sugars and Richie saved me,” Froome explained of his domestique deluxe. “Richie’s a really great guy; he put all of his ambitions aside in this race to keep the jersey on my shoulders.”

Ritchie knew that his job was not to win the race but to support Froome and ensure that it was to the benefit of the team and not to think of himself. The same thing applies to employees in a business, each person, whether they think so or not has a role to play in the bigger picture. You can argue what a company’s core values and ambitions should be but whether you are servicing clients, managing risk or increasing sales everyone has a part to play and it should be for the benefit of everyone in the company and not just to make a name for yourself. However, to do this, a person needs to know what their part is, leaders/managers must ensure that each member of staff has a clear idea of what is expected of them and given the tools and environment to succeed.

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