Achieving high individual and team performance

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Derek Stockley explores lessons learnt from examples of individual and team performance. Derek Stockley conducts one day leadership courses in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Two events highlighted how individual performance affects team performance. Interestingly, the examples highlight the need to develop individual talent in order to achieve improved team performance.

Australian Pops Orchestra (Melbourne Pops)

It was a privilege to attend the New Years’ Eve concert by the Australian Pops Orchestra. The orchestra members obviously enjoyed working together to achieve a high standard of entertainment covering a variety of musical styles.

Observing individual musicians and sections on the stage reminded me of a training film. The film follows an orchestra practising and performing Ravel’s famous* Bolero. The film features interviews with various musicians describing the importance of teamwork and working together to achieve the high performance standard demanded by the music.

The Bolero music is said to contain the longest-sustained single crescendo in an orchestral piece. Consequently, it takes a great deal of teamwork to gradually build up to the crescendo - instruments are introduced in sequence and it requires a delicate balance to keep the sound level growing consistently.

Both the training film and my observations of the Australian Pops Orchestra highlighted the impact of good teamwork. An orchestra is a very good demonstration of synergy - how the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Each individual contribution is good. However, combining all the instruments together produces a superior result.

2005 Deaflympics Melbourne ("Deaf Olympics")**

I had the honour of seeing one of my son’s friends compete in a swimming event at the 2005 Deaflympic Games in Melbourne.

Although he did not win the event, he achieved a "personal best" time. As he is quite young, his participation has now established a benchmark for his future participation.

I know that he has spent many hours training. His parents and family have provided extensive support and encouragement throughout, as have the team’s coaching and administrative staff

Individuals and teamwork

These examples all highlight the importance of the right individual/team balance.

Research consistently shows that a team will produce better results than an individual. But it is each individual’s contribution that produces the team result.

Both individuals and teams have to be nurtured to obtain the best results.

Organisations that support and encourage teamwork continue to do well.

Successful organisations:

  • Nurture and develop people in individual and team activities.

  • Facilitate team development by encouraging informal and formal learning and sharing.

  • Monitor the team and organisation "climate" and "culture". Climate means morale - how things are. Culture includes the beliefs, rituals and values that underpin how things are done.

  • Learn from failures and successes and continually modify and review policies and processes.

How is your organisation performing?

Do you have a strong team culture?

Do you focus on both individual and team development?


* Although famous in music circles, the use of Bolero in the Bo Derek/Dudley Moore movie "10" ensured it’s popular notoriety.

** Although often referred to as the "Deaf Olympics", the correct name is "Deaflympic Games". The event has the endorsement of the international Olympic body.

Related articles

Individual and organisational performance - highlights some of the key issues involving performance, both at the individual and organisational level.


Further information:

Australian Pops Orchestra - official website.

Ravel’s Bolero - musical and historic information.

Bolero Music Clips - you can listen to various segments (RealPlayer required).

Training Film - Bolero - brief summary including video clip and purchase information.

Bo Derek/Dudley Moore Film - Bolero - the New York Times Review.

Deaflympics and Deaflympics Games Melbourne 2005- official "deaf olympics" sites.

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