5 min read

11:FS value one – Team: success is a team sport

David M. Brear

So the 11:FS values are live. It’s official now we’ve bought the swag :). What did you think of them? Make sense? Now let’s get into the details. This week, I’m going to outline how teamwork is crucial to our success. Value number one - Team: success is a team sport.

Sports?!

‘Eww,’ I hear some of you thinking. Macho bullshit, high-fiving, win at all costs man-fests. Well that isn’t what I mean when I say it, so read this and read it well, please.

A lot has been written about whether qualities aligned with business teams (e.g. collaboration) can be coupled with qualities aligned with sports teams (e.g. competition).

My love before business was sport. I represented my country in loads of them. Some had many athletes on the field; others were one-on-one affairs. But all of them – be it rugby, basketball or running the 100m – were team-based sports, regardless of how many people were competing.

They all required the effort of the entire team to elevate the impact of the individual. The nutritionist was as important as the sprint coach. The tactician’s position drills proved as valuable as the gym work. The psychology built upon the physiology and vice-versa.

Work together, win together

Sports teams work collectively to ensure everyone achieves the best possible outcome. Every task relies upon hardworking, dedicated team members in peak mental and physical condition to achieve even the slightest possibility of success.

Athletes get that it’s about the team. They understand that it’s important to turn up and do your best, but they also set goals obsessively and take accountability for working through all the variables within their control.

And management doesn’t leave players to figure it out. Instead, they work proactively to make people better at the things that benefit the team. Everyone understands that certain people are better at certain things in certain roles.

Making the right moves

In sports, it’s as much about mental health as physical strength. That’s why teams shape their players’ mentality, guiding them to success instead of leaving them to navigate alone.

Every day, sports teams work with each other to get better. The feedback is constant. The impact is measurable and quantitative.

Sports teams use data incredibly well to drive decision-making off the field. But on the field, it all comes down to instinct and skill. Each individual knows they can put trust in the hands of their team members. Even a player’s departure, for a period or for good, can be beneficial for the team as a whole.

What we’ve learned

My education and career taught me to identify business skills. But honestly, playing sport did more to help me develop my business skills than any other experience in my life. And that’s why I’ll continue to bring ‘sport science’ to our business over the next year – to enhance what we’re great at and learn what we can improve.

Of the many things I’ve learned from playing sports, these are just a few of the most valuable:

1. Failure is growth

You miss shots. You lose games. You lose championships. After all these losses, you figure out what happened and you go again. You may be defeated in the game but you live to play again and you learn.

For us, this means we aren’t playing purely to win; in fact we know we will never ‘win’ as this never ends, but playing to ensure we learn and grow to increase our chances of success.

2. Inches make yards

Every single victory is important. When running the 50m, beating your personal best is important. You have to recognise the micro and the macro victories because the game never ends. This means celebrating what we do together and celebrating what individuals achieve.

At 11:FS, we celebrate the small and the big wins. We understand success won’t lead us away from our values or compromise us. We celebrate little achievements, often.

3. Mentality matters more than muscles

Your mindset is more important than anything. If you’re already thinking you can’t, you won’t. If you don’t believe in your training or your ability to overcome previous loses, you’ll stop making the right decisions.

A positive mindset isn’t thinking everything is awesome. It isn’t ignoring what is wrong, tough or broken and moving on with a smile on your face. It’s about seeking out issues and resolving them.

For us, this means we all take responsibility for being positive. We seek out areas we can improve and we use our skills to help others. We maintain an open, constructive feedback loop on a regular basis rather than waiting for a problem to unravel. We are pro us, pro change and pro our teammates.

4. There’s no ‘u’ in ‘team’

Even the best teams lose and fail a lot. The best of them know that no loss is ever intended. Sometimes things don’t work out, even when you start with the best intentions.

At 11:FS, we never say “you didn’t” or “you failed”. We never talk about people; we talk to them. Everything we do is in the interest of the team. We always assume positive intent. We look to maximise people’s strengths and reduce the negatives where we can. Things can’t always work out perfectly and we are pragmatic about those realities.

5. Sport is about entertainment

I was once paid a compliment by one of my opposing team players, who said their point guard could do the things I could do but I made it look better. That has stuck with me.

The thrill of a win is great but ultimately sport is about the mastery of a skill, the freedom of expression and making it look good. It’s why I was drawn to basketball, which is as much about style and culture as it is about the end results.

For us, this means we need to focus not just on what we do but the way we do it. Substance with style. We need to be smart but also be engaging and inclusive in our intelligence, breaking things down to involve others both internally and within our community.

6. It’s about the franchise legacy, not this year’s title

The LA Lakers (a basketball team, for those who don’t know) understand that it’s not about winning this year but what their franchise stands for and those values that matter most.

Anyone in my immediate team knows I spend so little time talking about the financial side of our business and next quarter’s targets. Not because I don’t care about it but because I’m not playing this game or even this year’s championship. I want 11:FS to establish the legacy that leads to revenue being the natural outcome of our way of working.

Success is a team sport

So with all that said, the first value at 11:FS is that ‘Success is a team sport’.

Inclusive

We collaborate proactively and effectively with diverse groups of people to achieve the best results. We value our differences.

Selfless

We’re driven by the greater good of 11:FS and not self-interest. We make time to help those around us.

Empathetic

We always look to understand people better. We use this to shape our actions and inform our solutions having the greatest impact as an individual and as a team.

Come back next week when David unveils our next value. In the meantime, are you looking for a change of gear or a new challenge? Then head over to our Careers page to see if anything takes your fancy.

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 David M. Brear
About the author

David M. Brear

David is the CEO of 11:FS and since his dream of being a sportsperson was crushed (along with the ligaments in his knee!) and he had to get a proper job, he has worked in pretty much every angle of financial services industry but never lost that competitive desire to win.

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