Goal harmony on teams

Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome

Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Sky’s principal, says team mates don’t have to be friends to work well together

Dave Brailsford was interviewed yesterday about the possibility of Chris Froome (winner of this year’s Tour de France) racing on the same team as Bradley Wiggins (winner of last year’s Tour de France, but out injured this time around). The two of them are known to have a frosty relationship, so Brailsford’s comments are particularly insightful:

“People talk about having team unity and team harmony. In my experience, I don’t buy that at all. Most of the best teams I’ve been with, they’re not harmonious environments.

“This is not a harmonious environment. This is a gritty environment where people are pushing really hard. Same with the Olympic team. There are agitators, and it’s a hard environment to spend a month in.

“But what you do need is goal harmony. And there’s a big difference between the two. You can have the best friends, the closest knit group, but if they’re not 100 per cent aligned behind the goal, it’s not going to work.

“Likewise, it doesn’t matter if there’s agitation amongst the group as long as when there’s a goal there, everybody aligns behind that goal and does absolutely what’s expected of them to achieve it.”

This is absolutely the truth. Success as a team is all about working towards the same end, not whether everyone on the team is best buddies. Of course, if poor relationships lead to a refusal to work together towards a common goal, then things will break down. But, providing the goal or mission is shared, it really doesn’t matter if everyone on a team gets on with each other.

There needs to be respect and an appreciation of what different people bring to the team but, providing that’s there—along with the shared focus—then a lack of friendship will not be a barrier to success at all.

In fact, if we are going to be people who make the most of our potential, it’ll be because we figure out how to work well with others—even when we don’t like them.

Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins on the Tour de France podium in 2012.

Two words and a smile

Seeing human