Engage for Success - How the County of Clare Hurling Team Encapsulates Effective Team Leadership

Summer in Ireland, as in many other countries, represents a mix of sunshine (we hope!), barbeques and outdoor living. However, for us sports enthusiasts it also represents a whole lot more. Gaelic Football and Hurling are nationally recognized sports and are played across the country and indeed the world.   This time of year we eagerly look forward to the Senior Football and Hurling Championships – these are the premier competitions in both games.  The season kicks off with games being played by teams across the country, all of whom have their eye on the final prize - the All Ireland Final which takes place in September when the winners are crowned.
Engage for Success - How the County of Clare Hurling Team Encapsulates Effective Team Leadership

In writing this blog I could not help but cast my mind back to the 2013 Championship which saw the County of Clare become All Ireland Senior Hurling Champions. A brilliant achievement, but all the more amazing given that it was 16 years since this county had won the title.  I am left wondering how did this team achieved such greatness, and while there is no doubting their hurling skills, prowess and passion, this alone did not enable them to achieve this accolade. 

So what was their secret; and what lessons could we readily transfer to the world of business?   I have distilled the learning into 4 key lessons that have applications in many organizations and, if applied, they would significantly enhance employee engagement, productivity and profitability. 

1. Leadership/Coaching Skills

Leading this team to victory against the backdrop of numerous defeats was no small challenge, but undoubtedly the Sports Coach was integral to this journey.  His thorough knowledge of the game, combined with this his coaching skills and competencies, enabled him to get the best from his team – he successfully re-ignited their passion and engaged their hearts and minds. 

2. Unleash and Maximize Potential

To realize the potential of each player and harness the collective strengths of the team, a Coach first needs to understand their individual talents and uniqueness before he or she can put together a game plan that will enable their team to play to their strengths and leverage their collective might.

3. Effective Communication

As this Coach said “You can never communicate too much,” and whilst the Coach must lead with authority, it is important to balance this with offers of encouragement, support and recognition of a job well done. 

4. Teamwork

The Clare Hurling Team was coached to play to their personal best whilst at the same time being encouraged to think and play as a team. The Coach fostered a culture of respect, trust and pride - pride in themselves, the team and playing for their County.  There was a real sense of belonging and sense of family that actualized the team’s inherent potential and group synergies.

With the latest research* highlighting that up to 70% of workers are disengaged, organizations cannot afford to ignore this key business challenge.  Organisations wishing to engage the hearts and minds of their employees should consider the benefits of training their Managers as Coaches and combining this with Career Management Programs for their employees.  This will equip managers with the skills and competencies necessary to effectively lead their teams to success as well as to empower staff to appreciate their talents and strengths and understand how they can contribute to helping the organization and themselves achieve their goals moving forward.

*(The Gallup State of the American Workplace Report)

"The great leaders are like the best conductors - they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players." --Blaine Lee


Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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