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Life at Capgemini

Sporting values

The teamwork and leadership skills behind sports

Two Capgemini colleagues who are also athletes explain how lessons learned on the playing field can create winning ways in the workplace.

Famous victories, record-breaking feats, and sublime examples of individual skill – these are the things that make sports headlines. Behind every sport’s success, however, there is a story of the hard work, inspired leadership, and team mentality that combined to make it happen.

Those attributes can deliver wins at work too. We asked two Capgemini colleagues who compete in sports how the values learned on the training field play out in the workplace. Here are their top pieces of advice.

It’s all for one and one for all

What makes a good leader of a sports team?

One requirement, says Yuta Tajima, associate consultant at Capgemini in Tokyo and a keen rugby player, who plays at scrum-half, is to treat every team member equally. “

The team leader coordinates the team and brings everybody together, but to do that, you need to look at team members eye to eye. In Japan, the phrase ‘all for one and one for all’ is popular. That’s a key understanding when you play rugby. If a team scores a try, it’s never just about the player who carries the ball across the line, because – before that point – the ball has been passed on from one person to another. Everyone in the team is involved. It’s exactly the same in work.”

A team is a magic combination

Prashant Shukla is a member of the Sweden national cricket team and a Pega Architect at Capgemini in Stockholm. When he’s not at work, he plays cricket. “Cricket is a team game,” he says, “and sometimes people are better at some parts of the game than others. For example, I’m mainly a spin bowler and I know where my skills can affect the game. Other people in the team have different skills – maybe you’re a fast bowler or a wicketkeeper. That’s what makes the team.

At work, that might be about having team members from different cultures or professional backgrounds. For project delivery, it might be that some people have the quality to be a good developer; others are good managers or good testers. Individually, you can do many things, but when a team comes together you can really move forward. Only together can you deliver the magic.”

Take care of the little things

“In our rugby team, one of the older players often takes the rugby ball back home after we practice,” says Yuta. “The journey for him is about one-and-a-half hours from the center of Tokyo, but he takes the trouble to look after the ball and bring it back the following week. Because he takes care to do this simple thing, we know we can trust him. When it comes to earning trust, these little things matter and bring confidence over time.”

Find what’s natural and authentic

“In India, where I grew up, cricket is almost a religion,” says Prashant. “People get it from birth. It’s almost not something that has to be taught. I have no memory of the time I got interested in cricket; it was just there.

When something is deeply rooted inside us and it becomes our culture, doing it feels natural and authentic. If you can bring that authentic attitude to your professional life, then you’ll always be willing to learn and improve, and have fun while doing it.”

Keep learning

“In work, the more you learn the better,” says Yuta. “But sometimes that means accepting you will get things wrong and that you have to welcome constructive criticism. After a rugby game, you review what went well and what didn’t. You and your team members may have made mistakes. How could you have supported the other players better? As you learn, however, always remember to try to have fun and know that taking action is a positive step, even if it doesn’t always work out.”

Adapt to the challenge

“In cricket, the opposition you face – and even the weather – can completely change the type of challenge you are up against,” says Prashant. “As a spin bowler, I’ll alter my bowling depending on who the batter is. You have to adapt your play to the situation, and you need to build a team that can adapt through the match or a series of matches. It means whatever the challenge, and whatever factors change, you have an option within the team to which you can turn to try to get the win. At work, you also need to be adaptable and open to change at any time.”

Team spirit is earned

At Capgemini, our goal is to ‘get the future you want.’ As with rugby, however, if that future is to be had by everyone, it has to be won together – with your teammates, for example. Work should be about one team spirit, but it requires a lot of communication if that spirit is to survive and thrive. The key question is always whether team members trust each other. Trust matters more than anything in sport, and it is developed on the field and off it. Only then will the future be one you can all really believe in.”

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