European success; it takes more than teamwork to win

Europe’s Ryder Cup success shows the importance of teamwork – but it’s preparation and desire that will really enable you to win.

Much will be made of a wonderful team ethos being a major contributor to Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the US at the weekend, and rightly so.

The European Ryder Cup team has often been cited as best practice in teamwork, the collective force triumphing over individual brilliance. After all, the US team clearly had the better players on paper and yet it was Team Europe who handed out one of the biggest defeats in the history of the tournament.

And yes, teamwork was a major factor. It always will be in a situation where a set of individuals have to perform together to win.

It’s the same for a pitch, or a bid, to win work. Quite often this will be a presentation, or Orals as some companies call it, and it’s clearly important the company or agency pitching for the work comes across as a team. We know this because we’ve been told it.

Customers on the receiving end of a pitch will tell us that it’s teamwork they are looking out for. After all, the service they are buying will often require the pitching team to work together, to complement each other, even to like each other. And importantly that everyone on the pitch team is clear about the IMPORTANCE they all play in delivering that service. There is no room for egos in a winning team.

So, when we help companies through the bid process we reinforce this need to behave like a team. Handovers, appropriate interjections, supporting comments, lack of obvious hierarchy, all of these things are absolutely critical to get right and it’s our role in rehearsals to ensure our clients do.

But you can’t just rely on teamwork alone. You have to prepare. Here’s an interesting statistic. The Ryder Cup was played at the Le Golf National in Paris. As with all courses, it will have its quirks, its unusual set ups on certain holes, it’s favourite landing spots for certain shots etc. In other words it’s unique. Which is like any pitch when you think about it.

And the stat is this. The number of pre-Ryder Cup rounds played on this course was 240. Of those, the US played just 8. Yep, that’s right, 8. And here’s another interesting little stat. Of those 8, 4 were played by one player, Justin Thomas. Guess who was the leading US player with 4 points? Yes, you’ve guessed it, one Justin Thomas.

So, the question begs, why didn’t more American players do what Thomas did and find the time to play on the course as part of the preparation. No-one knows for sure. Perhaps they didn’t think it would make much difference. Perhaps they thought that their individual brilliance would be enough. Or perhaps they just didn’t desire it enough?

But one thing’s for sure. When they were watching the European team celebrate – and boy did they celebrate – I find it hard to believe that just some of them weren’t watching on wishing that perhaps they’d done just a bit more prep and had had a bit more desire.

Ken Deeks MBE is a Director of The Amber Group and author of the Little Black Book of Presentation Secrets