I’ve really enjoyed watching the cycling at the Rio Olympics. The Great Britain team are a masterclass in commitment, teamwork and an outright will-to-win. As business owners, we’ve always had lots to learn from those who compete at the highest levels. Here’s my take on how the GB Cycling team’s approach to Rio can help us all :

Understanding Families
In most cases, following their wins, the GB medalists went to their biggest supporters first. They removed their track shoes, ran up the 40 degree incline and embraced their family members. Emotions run high and I get this. When you’re committing so much time to your sport, something has to give and it’s usually family members who feel this first. Chris Hoy mentioned that you need to be “selfish in a way” to achieve at the highest level. Being selfish in business is often a necessity when it comes to making decisions on our time.

Positive Social Media
I once had the pleasure of listening to Clive Woodward, Rugby World Cup 2003 Winning Coach. He had many wise words but one that has stayed with me is his view on social media. It should all be about positivity and creating an environment in which to thrive. If you have something positive to say, then feel free to post. Anything negative, then address it with that person “in person”. There’s no need for the world to know about it.

Commitment to training as a team
Chris Boardman mentioned in the commentary about how long the GB team spends at the Manchester Velodrome together. The early starts, long hours and ability to share experiences all count towards a cohesive unit. They look and act like a team. They’re supportive of each other’s successes and listen to each other. It’s clear to see that the newcomers have huge amounts of respect for the more experienced riders like Wiggins, but at the same time, Wiggins is proud to be working with such keen newcomers. It’s a perfect combination. Ultimately though, they live and breathe cycling together and this is what creates the winning team.

Invest in quality technology
The GB team aren’t shopping around on price for bikes, monitoring equipment and communication tools. They’ve chosen their technology suppliers based on quality. Cervelo, their weapon of choice for the velodrome claim to “build the fastest and lightest pro bikes for road, tri and track”. There’s no prices on the website, and why should there be?

Positive, supportive environment
Every member of the GB cycling team looks happy. Even just before a crucial race for a medal position, they have a focused smile on their face. They’ve just been given supportive words and messages from the people around them. If I could choose a Fly-On-The-Wall moment for this olympics, it would have been Jason Kenny’s and Callum Skinner’s room the night before they battled it out for a Gold medal in the men’s sprint. There’s no doubt in my mind that the conversation was an entirely positive one.

Inspirational Leadership
Having Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in the GB team is a stroke of genius. There’s nothing that these two guys haven’t achieved, but both Wiggins and Cav brought something very special to the unit. Leadership. The Team Pursuit with Wiggins was a joy to watch. His experience was clear to see in the pre and post interviews. He knew what was coming. And I believe him. Cav is a leader in a different way. His style is forthright and out there, but sometimes you need someone in the team who’s going to “say it as it is”. In business, we all need these kind of coaches, not just the “yes-men”. It goes without saying that the coaching team, led by Iain Dyer combines this melting pot of characters and brings out the best in them.

Fanatical about the numbers
Winning margins in track cycling are measured in milliseconds. Knowing your numbers before you even step foot on the plane has been an essential formula in their success. Marginal gains are the keywords in cycling from carbon-moulded footwear, super-slick helmets and aerodynamic socks each one contributing milliseconds to the final result but the sum of the parts being greater than each individual gain. In business, we can make gains that aren’t even that marginal by adopting the right technology to introduce automation or streamline a business process.

So, the cycling’s all done now. It’s been a perfect story of commitment, heart and success and I’ve enjoyed every minute. Success in sport and business require the same levels of commitment and seeing it in action over the last few days just emphasises the importance of getting it so right. Inspirational stuff, well done team GB.

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