The England cricket team celebrate

As an England cricket fan it was fantastic to see the England team beat India last week to win the series and become the number one Test team in the world. It was a brilliant achievement, one built on skill and endeavour – as well as a ruthless focus on preparation and teamwork.

A focus on the collective not the individual

Each member of the England cricket team is a master craftsman in their own right, whether they are an opening batsman, leader of the bowling attack or wicketkeeper. But although everyone in the team has their own set of particular skills, the real driving force is a collective sense of togetherness and a unified goal of becoming the best cricket team in the world.

England’s achievement in reaching that goal is all the more impressive when you consider their opponents in this series’ win: India. Before the series, India were the number one team and contained some of the biggest and best cricketers in the game. However, unlike the English, the Indians often played as individuals and not as a team and at times seemed to lack conviction and purpose. One wonders what aims and objectives they were focused on.

Strong leadership builds motivation

With a good team comes good leadership. If it weren’t for a strong leadership team England, despite all their collective talents, would probably not have achieved what they did. The influential management consultant and writer Peter Drucker once said:

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”

There were various points throughout the series when England struggled and players failed. And yet the team persevered and came through to win three matches in a row. When one player struggled, another picked up the slack. And whenever someone achieved a personal victory the team as a whole got the credit.

A common characteristic

I’ve used the England cricket team as an example in this post but I could easily have chosen to focus on the 1998 New York Yankees, England’s world-cup winning rugby team from 2003 or even the current Barcelona football team. But whomever I chose the key characteristic remains the same: they all possess the power of teamwork.