thursday, 20 july, 2017
Matt Dawson explains the need for a competitive environment in the workplace.
When is a draw the same as winning? For the super competitive players of the Lions and All Blacks they would probably say never, but for those of us watching the enthralling conclusion to the Test Series a couple of weeks ago it almost seemed a fair result between two evenly-matched teams.
I have noted since my rugby career finished that it was often not the core skills that separate professional sportsmen from keen amateurs but more the level of competitiveness they displayed when playing. There were times, as a young man on the '97 Lions tour that the desire to win of those around me was almost terrifying! This was a disparate collection of highly motivated individuals united in a common purpose. It was electric just to be in the changing room before the game.
I loved hearing about All Blacks’ captain Kieran Reed’s comment to his opposite number during a break in play three minutes from the end – “Wow, this is rugby.” That he could take a moment just to marvel at the organised chaos going on around him shows a measure of the man, in my opinion. We all need to stand back sometimes and appreciate and reflect on what motivates us. Why are we getting up every day, what drives us on, what unifies our team?
My friend and colleague, Tim Rodber, started his business career some time earlier than many of us who played rugby together. A very motivated individual in his team at Northampton, he was also an army officer and then started his own business. I know that many former rugby players, who stayed within the game would question Tim and ask why he was striving so hard in the business world. But for Tim it was clear: whether in the army, rugby or business, the competitive edge was forged by wanting to bring a team together, to be the best, in whatever field. That was motivation enough for him and the challenge of being successful in another type of work was just another spur to push on and test himself.
I can see in Maro Itoje, the young Lions’ lock, that he is another for whom the spirit of competitiveness burns very bright. And that is born out not only in his rugby but in his studies, in learning, and his life outside of the sport. He shows all the signs of being another remarkable leader, driving himself on and those around him without staggering levels of competitiveness and to be the best. It will not be long before he captains his country, but you get the sense that might be the first of many successful, positions he occupies in his life and later career.
This competitive edge is an area I have considered meticulously when transferring into business as it can have many positive benefits. The motivated nature of myself, Tim and others in the organisation has an affirmative effect on those around us, benefiting The Instant Group with a more focused approach based on previous success and shared learnings.
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