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Pulling In The Same Direction

Sport often provides an escape from the tsunami of information that washes over our senses daily. Whether playing, supporting, or watching, we get transported to a place full of joy, despair, and togetherness that those who experience it can truly understand. But, the lines between sport, life and business are becoming blurred. Coaches, managers, and athletes regularly discuss an elite mindset approach to high performance that is equally applicable to successful business strategy.

There is also an argument that successful strategies can start in the board room before migrating into the world of sport. Are Marginal Gains, a concept championed by cycling supremo Sir Dave Brailsford, that different to Kaizen, the approach most famously taken by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota? Both talk about incremental changes that deliver exponential, and in the case of British Cycling, consistent success. Improving every process to produce better quality products or results. Not a huge difference.

And whether the positive outcome is business, personal or sport-related, there is consistency in how the people involved operate. Successful teams have great cultures, where they understand the vision, and everyone pulls in the same direction. Individuals feel empowered to challenge, step up when required, and create something better than the sum of its parts.

Exponential and sometimes unexpected improvement in results occurs when culture, vision and people are aligned. A brilliant example of this is the Cincinnati Bengals franchise in American Football. Two years ago, they were statistically the worst team in the NFL. Tomorrow sees them compete in the showpiece finale to the NFL season, Super Bowl LVI. They are one game away from being crowned World Champions.

The team from Ohio, led by head coach Zac Taylor, made the most of the cards they were dealt. Being the worst team in the league had its benefits. You get to the first pick in the annual NFL draft. They chose wisely and introduced Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow to their roster. A serial winner, an exciting talent, and a key hire in the most important position in the squad. He leads from the front, creating a culture that his colleagues buy into, and has an abundance of resilience having bounced back from an ACL/MCL injury in his first season.

Players have come and gone, as the Head Coach and General Manager constructed a roster within the salary cap while addressing talent gaps in important positions. More young, exciting, and most importantly talented players came through the draft and trades, including Ja’Marr Chase, this season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Over the last two seasons, the organisation has continued to develop its culture. Everyone is empowered to challenge, having clear roles and objectives for the team to be successful. Whether it’s the coaching staff, practice squad or match day roster, they step up at vital times. This is the secret to their success, and why they have surprised everyone this season. They are all pulling in the same direction.

Businesses can learn a great deal from the Cincinnati Bengals. Create a culture that empowers your team, a vision that everyone engages with, and seek out the talent you are missing. Improved results will follow.

At Fuelled Fit and Fired Up, our purpose is simple. We want to help you develop a healthy, successful, and sustainable business. If you are interested in finding out how we can unleash the power in your business, then contact us at info@fuelledfitandfiredup.com.

David Rogers, Founder & CEO of Fuelled, Fit and Fired Up

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