There is a reason why former Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been in hot demand from businesses around the world ever since he decided to call time on an amazing career at the helm of the English football club. Corporates have come around to the fact that teamwork is key to success in business, and who better than to uncover some of the secrets to building a successful team than sports managers, whose job it is to motivate and cajole their groups to achieve success, and then sustain it.

There have been many sporting teams over the years which offer a shining example to businesses, and they all operate differently. Here is our pick of four legendary sporting outfits which reveal something important to us about the team mindset:

Manchester United treble winning side (1999)

There are a few priceless fly-on-the-wall documentaries from Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1990s Manchester United team that uncover the importance the club placed on ‘the team’, and how that manifested itself. Now it is common to see teams prepare for kickoff by embracing each other, but it seems it has become almost a matter of course. The 1990s United were a curious sight in the dressing room before their matches, each one making his way around the room to shake the hand of every single playing and non-playing individual present. A simple handshake and an “all the best” was all it took to ensure United felt the togetherness as they left the tunnel and walked out onto the pitch. It showed us that simple gestures of unity, goodwill, and friendship can go a long way to forming a strong team.

All Blacks record breakers (2015-2016)

Already the dominant side in world rugby, with the most number of World Cups to their name, the New Zealand rugby team excelled further with the record breaking consecutive 18 Test victories they strung together. It cannot be denied that their free-flowing, uncompromising brand of rugby, played at breakneck speed, is a huge factor in the All Black period of dominance, but there was also a refreshing take on team ethics presided over by Head Coach Steve Hansen. Hansen put a huge emphasis on player responsibility – the obligation of the players to take everything on their own shoulders, from preparation to performance. In an era characterised by bloated backroom staffs, it is almost novel. Reportedly, this attitude even extended to the world famous rugby stars tidying up the dressing room before they leave after games. Now if wealthy sports stars can show that much pride in their workplace, your business team should have no excuses!

England Ashes-winning cricket team (2005)

You can have a great team spirit, and a good collection of characters, but what can really unite the employees in your company is one common goal; a single objective that brings everyone together and keeps them focused. That’s what we saw in the run-up to cricket’s Ashes series in 2005, when an England side perhaps not blessed with the biggest natural talents rose to become number two in the world. Captain Michael Vaughan had declared the objective of regaining the Ashes for the first time in 16 years by beating Australia. However, it was only after impressive series victories away from home in countries like South Africa, that the dream became more of a reality. England stuck to their guns, and by the time the 2005 Ashes series came around, they were ready to defeat a legend-packed Australia team including the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist. They were awarded MBEs for their efforts and given an open top bus parade around the streets of London. But the less said about the next Ashes series, a 5-0 drubbing for England in Australia, the better – perhaps Vaughan’s absence as captain was the reason?

Real Madrid galacticos (2000-2007)

It might seem like an odd choice considering Real Madrid’s reputation as a team of big money signings mercilessly plucked from competing clubs, but during this era, the Spanish side was very much a team. A tally of four league titles and two European Champions Leagues over this period showed that despite being a collection of players from different countries, speaking different languages, and with the pressure of massive price tags hanging over their heads, they could pull together when it counted. The key could be that the non-galactico members of the side – hard workers such as Steve McMananman and Michael Salgado – gave a platform to the likes of Ronaldo and Luis Figo to express themselves. What does it teach us in business? Some members of our team will inevitably be less talented than others in some areas, but nonetheless, everybody must be treated equally in the workplace, and everyone’s input is just as vital when it comes to maintaining the team ethos.

All these teams demonstrate different interpretations of the team ethos to us, but one thing they have in common that all businesses can take inspiration from is that they would not have achieved success without working well as a collective.

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