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What do senior managers and elite cycling teams have in common? It might be more than you think...

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Elite sport consists of systems and processes designed with one aim in mind, to improve performance.

Performance is measured, tracked, analysed and built on through practice, training and great coaching.

The idea is to help athletes make better decisions so they can get from one point to another quicker; hit a ball more accurately, or to borrow a rowing term, “make the boat go faster”.

However, building muscle, stamina, and endurance - in essence developing the physical conditioning and attributes of an elite sportsperson - is only half of the equation needed for performance success.

The second half is the mental side. Developing the right mindset, making the right decisions, out thinking the opponent! Vast amounts of psychological research are devoted to this element of elite development.


Developing mindsets for better performance at work

At work developing the mindset and soft skills of people within organisations is growing in some industries. Organisations that will outperform their competition are helping their leaders, managers and employees to develop these skills.

Let’s take one example: ‘Feedback’. Within sport, feedback is one of the major foundations of improving. Literally, everything is measured.

This enables athletes and their support teams to compile data that is analysed, reviewed and reflected upon. With the aim of identifying everything down to the smallest areas for improvements.

This is not a new concept and many elite teams have applied this methodology. Many of you will recognise this as the ‘Marginal Gains’ concept, originally coined as a theory by Sir Dave Brailsford when he joined the British Cycling team as their performance director.

Matthew Syed the author of 'Rebel Ideas' wrote a fantastic article for the BBC on Marginal Gains and he said: “The doctrine of marginal gains is all about small incremental improvements in any process adding up to a significant improvement when they are all added together.”

With scandals and revelations about the British GB cycling team and Team Sky the concept has taken a bit of a bashing. This recent article by Tim Lewis provides a no holds barred view.

With quotes from Sir Bradley Wiggins and the achievements of Eliud Kipochage who recently became the first runner to complete 26.2 miles in under 2 hours highlighting the benefits of a more nuanced approach.


How does this apply to me and my team?

You may be thinking, this is all very interesting and perfectly fits elite sport where they have the ability and capacity to measure everything. However, how can this impact me in my role?

Well if you consider your last day at work? Think about your interactions with colleagues, your mindset and how you conducted certain conversations? Your empathy levels and emotional intelligence? Were you truly present in those meetings or on that video conference? How much time you did you spend on developing the people in your team? Did you really see the impact your default behaviours had on the people around you?

And these are just a few of the areas of your performance that you could choose to monitor and reflect upon with the aim of constantly improving.

We are not suggesting this is easy or simply occurs overnight. At times it will be difficult and challenging. Most Team GB athletes have the same feelings about training in the rain at 6 am in January!

At Kinetic PD, our programmes and workshops break down the concepts and theories from elite sport and psychological research into manageable chunks so they can be applied within your organisation. Delivered by our team of world class athletes and business coaches we help people to achieve more than they thought possible.

To start a conversation, you can call us on 01527 575 522 or to arrange a call back email us at


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