The secret of my success: Sir Clive Woodward on the importance of listening to your team

SIR Clive Woodward has urged Yorkshire's business leaders to adopt the team-building model which he used to win the Rugby Union World Cup, and secure a bumper crop of gold medals for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics.

Sir Clive Woodward and members of the Great Britain Olympic team parade around the stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.

Sir Clive, who is the former head coach of England’s rugby union team and also served as Team GB’s director of sport, told a gathering of more than 200 business leaders that the “teamship” approach could improve the performance of their company.

He was speaking at an event organised by First Intuition and the Collaborative Professionals Network, (CPN) a new body which encourages professionals to work together to promote Yorkshire as a great place to live and work.

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During his speech at Leeds Beckett University, Sir Clive outlined how the “teamship” approach revolved around “creating an environment so good that everyone wants to be a part of it and nobody ever wants to leave”.

This approach centred around rules for conduct agreed within the team, such as good time-keeping, and also a philosophy of respecting every team members’ right to express an opinion.

The event also included a question and answer session, chaired by Greg Wright, The Yorkshire Post’s deputy business editor.

Afterwards, Sir Clive said: “Teamship is not a theory. it’s something I’ve learned to do.

“I just hope the leaders in the room understand that their team has also got some great thoughts, some great ideas, and they just need to really listen, because sometimes the best thoughts and ideas come from the team. They don’t always have to come from you as the leader of the team.

“If I’m leading a team, I always try to listen to the new people in the team first, because they are coming in with no baggage about how you’ve always done things.

“The new people in an organisation have got just as much to say as the more senior people.”

He said he was good at spotting new ideas, and then putting them into practice. Sir Clive said leaders should be “a real sponge for new knowledge”.

Karen Eckstein, one of the founder members of the CPN, said: “I was delighted to see a full house of attendees across the business and professional networks of Yorkshire.

“I’m really pleased to say that the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) have asked to join the CPN, so the group is growing, which is encouraging, and shows that what we are trying to achieve is clearly working.

“Sir Clive’s talk was thought provoking and inspiring,” said Ms Eckstein, who is a legal director at law firm Bond Dickinson. “The subject matter of teamship was highly relevant, as it aligns closely to the principles of the CPN, which was set up to bring together the resources of the various professional and business networks in Yorkshire for the wider benefit of their members.”

Bill Barton, the vice president of Leeds Law Society, which is one of the supporters of the collaborative network, said: “Sir Clive’s talk about ‘Teamship’ struck a chord with many of us in the audience and the link between working collaboratively and actions was the key.

“When people of varying backgrounds, ages, skills and experience work together, in a shared and agreed way, a positive outcome is almost guaranteed.”

Chris Manners, the regional director, for the ICAEW, (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), another of the network’s supporters, said Sir Clive’s talk had shown how to transform an organisation’s culture.

He added: “I was delighted at the level of support and very pleased to work with other professional bodies to connect our communities together.”

The Collaborative Professionals Network has been established to shout about the world class professionals who have established a base in Yorkshire. The group aims to provide a forum for informed debate about the major issues facing the region’s economy.

The group was formed as a result of a partnership between The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Leeds Law Society, The Institute of Directors, the Chartered Institute of Taxation and Association of Taxation Technicians, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.”