What Team GB Hockey did next transformed rock bottom to a gold medal in Rio 2016.
Learnings for lawyers from this sensational summer of sport
Can you imagine, in 2008 and still a teenager with the chance to represent your country in a home Olympics?
In this blog we’re sharing a couple of snapshots through the lens of our 20 July 2021 Community Roundtable panellist, Georgie Twigg OLY MBE. At the Community Roundtable, we’ll be digging deeper into the elements of togetherness, its impact and what can be shared, learned and applied to our legal teams.
But for now, let’s set up the backdrop. Olympic cycles run in periods of 4 years. The process proper for London 2012 started in 2008 (not a standing start but where the focus kicks in).
I’m sure you can imagine the euphoria and excitement of a teenager with the chance to compete in the Olympics - in a home Olympics. To then go on, on the first Olympic outing to collect a coveted bronze medal - a podium spot, an MBE and fuelling national pride and awe. The last time this happened was 1992 and after that performance was 2-4 spots shy of the podium. 2012 WAS BIG!
on the podium
Evidently whatever the team was doing was working. It had worked really well, building a medalling team for the first time in 20 years. A nice set up to improve and go for gold in Rio.
we were rock bottom
But 2 years into the Rio cycle, the team hit what Georgie describes as “rock bottom”, finishing 7th in the World League. Not what had been expected. Not indicative of a podium performance for Rio.
Do you recognise the feeling?
You know, that sense of frustration or even panic as your legal team regroups after the euphoria of completing a momentous merger or a game-changing deal and then… And then the team’s just not firing as you know they have/can/should.
IT’S ON YOU
As the leader, the responsibility is yours to reignite the team and its performance. What you do next is critical - you know it, the teams knows it and your line manager knows it too.
GO SLOW TO GO FAST
Sometimes you need to go slow and in reverse to power forward - like a pull-back racing car. As lawyers in business, this can be scary with the explosive combination of pressure to perform, reputation and no guarantees - it goes against every internal narrative and unconscious motivator in us. It’s why courage, resilience and vision are such critical attributes for leaders.
ONE STEP BACK.
TWO STEPS FORWARD.
This is what the team did, just 2 years out from the Rio Olympics. They went back to the drawing board with a new team member - a psychologist to work on the foundations of shared vision, values, behaviours and a commitment to that, and developing a mindset of togetherness. A togetherness mindset that was so firm that those of the 32 players who didn’t go to the Olympics but were part of the team preparation were as part of the gold medalling team as Holly Webb who scored the gold medal winning penalty.
That shift in approach. The courage to change and do something different and to go backwards to go forward, the commitment to go slow to go fast was the counter-cultural catalyst that set the team up for success.
LEARNINGS FOR LAWYERS IN LEADERSHIP:
1. Activate courage. You have it in abundance, (even if it doesn’t feel like it or you need get uncomfortable to rediscover it).
2. Demonstrate courage. Choose to take a step back sometimes, and focus on the fundamentals that will raise the level of performance across the board.
Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise. - Michael Jordan (6x NBA Champion, Brand Jordan, Billionaire)
3. Resist the comfort zone. Secure the external support needed for team and big picture success. It’s not a weakness to recognise the internal or existing limitations or recognising you can’t do everything. It is a reflection of next level humility, self-awareness, and a commitment to the cause that’s bigger than a personal agenda. The kind that we saw in the Euros in Gareth Southgate and the England set up, Rob Page and the Welsh set up, and Kasper Hjulmand and the Denmark set up. The kind that we’re likely to see in abundance in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what will be an insightful and inspiring Community Roundtable on 20 July 2021 with our panellists from elite sport and law.
Today’s blog was inspired by Georgie Twigg MBE. She was the youngest member of the Olympic Team GB hockey team who won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics in the same year she graduated with a law degree from the University of Bristol before going on to win a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Georgie retired from international hockey and started her training contract at London law firm Bird & Bird LLP, where she is now an associate in the Sports team.
If you haven’t claimed your complementary seat at the Community Roundtable, don’t worry, you can do so by registering here:
We'd love you to join the conversation at this share+learn experience on unlocking the power of togetherness from sport to law.
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