Team versus individual goals
- Where are we/you going?
- What’s important that will help move us/you in that direction?
TeamWhen Gary Kirsten and I joined the Indian national cricket team as coaches in 2008, we facilitated conversations with the one-day team that revealed:
- The team wanted to become ‘India’s best-ever ODI team’.
- In order to give ourselves the best chance of realising this, the following five things were deemed by the players to be important, each of which had detailed explanations of what these terms meant to the team:
- team first: placing the team ahead of individual needs
- excellence: set world standards in best practice
- entertaining: fully express skills and self
- attitude of winners: believe we can win from every situation
- mature individuals: make good decisions, on- and off-field
IndividualIt’s all well and good having clear team goals and then asking players to place the team first, to say ‘there’s no I in team’, but the reality is people have their own needs, wants, desires and goals that are important to them. These cannot and should not be dwarfed by the needs of a team, but rather included and integrated.
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- ‘What do you personally want to achieve from your journey with this team?’ Or the same question differently put, ‘If this was to be the most successful and enjoyable season of your life, what would need to happen?’ I remind players to focus purely on their own needs, for example win the competition, improve, learn loads, get selected into a higher team, make good friends, prove someone wrong, make a name for myself, support my family – whatever is important to that individual.
- ‘Looking at both what you personally want to achieve and what the team wants, what are the important things that you need to do to simultaneously achieve your and the team’s desired outcomes?’ Aligning their and the team goals, players might respond with: eat, train, recover and/or sleep well, work on a specific new skill, diligently follow all my routines, support teammates, be courageous, ask good questions, etc.
Clash of interestsIn reality, there’ll be cases where individual interests clash with those of the team. A typical example would be a player wanting to score 500 runs in a T20 tournament and the team agreeing to play attacking and selfless cricket. The individual goal suggests playing more cautiously, while the team goal suggests taking more risks.An individual who wants to score a certain number of goals in hockey or soccer might lean towards being selfish by holding the ball rather than passing. This is perfectly normal, it happens in most teams, where an individual’s and team’s interests clash. This is where the concepts of ‘team player’ and ‘selfish player’ arise.I make it known to the team that I know this clash happens and it’s normal.I lead players to this understanding of clashing goals and ask players to think it through, questioning what choice they would ideally make when these differing interests clash.One way to do this could be to have players think of the wisest person they know and imagine what that person would advise.Whether you do this exercise or not, the clash will happen, and players will have to make their own call. My suggestion, for the benefit of the team and the individual, is to bring this scenario to the awareness of the team.
Your taskWhen setting individual and team goals it’s essential that they’re generated by the players in conjunction with the coach. In the comments, describe the strategies you use to plan for success.When you’ve contributed your own strategies, review your peers’ comments and consider how their strategies can inform your approach.
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