What I learned from elite Sports – part 4
Competitive sport was an absolute life school for me, therefore I would like to explain and share some of my key learnings with you in the next few weeks.

In the last article I talked about the topic «Resilience» and how important it is to stick to your goals, even if it doesn’t always work right away.

The fourth part is about “The importance of a well-functioning team”. 

“Fabienne, you are an individual athlete, what exactly do you want to tell us about team development?” A saying I hear all the time when I am new to working with a team. Yes, I was an individual athlete, but I had a team of up to 10 people around me during my best and most successful times. Without that team, I would not have been able to celebrate all those successes and overcome the challenges as well. I built this team over several years and led it with a lot of passion and joy. My team was my support, my motivation, but at the same time my critics.

Yes, in the end, I was the one who stood on the course and was allowed to call up the performance. But that is only the tip of the iceberg, the area that is visible from the outside. What you don’t see is the hard work you put in every day (as described in the last article), the many people in the background who give everything to make sure that I get to live my dream, that I can perform at my best when it matters the most and in the end focus “only” on my work.

When we talk about High Performing Teams, there are several areas that are crucial, to describe them would go beyond the scope, but I would like to point out some pieces here.

The first and probably most important step is to find a common denominator. In our case, this was “my” goal, such as the participation in the Olympic Games. In other words, it was important to get my team excited about it, get them on board, and make my goal our goal.

Another example of this is when I took over the responsibility of the volunteers at the VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open (Ladies European Tour event) for 2 years after my retirement. I wanted to offer the players exactly what I had always wanted from the Volunteers as a former player, I wanted to create a second home for the players, where they feel comfortable and feel the appreciation and support from all the helpers. That is one, although small, piece of the puzzle for good performance, to feel comfortable, whether in sports or working in a company. And I was able to transfer that vision to 200 volunteers, get them on board and do just that. 

And whether I inspire 10 people for my goals or 200 people is irrelevant, because in both cases I have done it in the same way. On the one hand through my passion for the task, the job or the goal, and on the other hand through leading by example and last but not least, of course, through open communication, understanding and appreciation for each individual, which means, among other things, creating psychological security. Because all this creates trust and trust is and remains the basis for a successful team.

Another very crucial point was the diversity in my team, as well as among the volunteers. My teams consisted of very different personalities, all with their individual strengths and abilities. It is precisely through this diversity that creative approaches to solutions, as well as new ways and inspiring input, can emerge. But also different types of motivation and communication can be used, especially when it comes to constructive criticism, depending on the situation and emotional state. That means I was absolutely aware of the usefulness of the different characters in my teams.

I have already mentioned communication, as well as psychological safety, but I am firmly convinced that it is precisely these points that can lead a team through crisis.

The Olympics would not have been possible without my team, a well-functioning team was necessary to get through this crisis and to reach the goal after all. But this well-functioning team does not emerge in the crisis, as many always think, it emerges much earlier, be it in moments of success or minor hurdles, exactly there the building blocks are laid to be able to master and overcome major challenges together.

The importance of a well-functioning team is another key learning that I took with me from my time as a professional athlete and which I now apply on a daily basis in my work with personalities and teams.