A Year to Remember? Without a doubt!

Published: 18 December 2012

As is traditional the end of the year brings an opportunity for reflection on what has gone before, and what will come in the times ahead. Pick a direction to look and this year has brought a cavalcade of remarkable memories. Hopefully the good will linger, and the bad will respectfully fade.

This past year brought us Royal celebrations of every generation (and one now to come!), sporting legends created and shattered, change of guard at the Bank, and too many highs and lows in the business world to mention. Amidst it all was a single unifying event that brought the spot light onto Great Britain - the London 2012 Olympic Games.

This weeks Sports Personality of the Year (#SPOTY) gave a fantastic lens through which to review the Games. I must announce an interest here - I am an ardent sports fan. But in watching this celebration of elite performance I was able to step back and acknowledge that the BBC successfully and respectfully delivered a celebration of all that is good about sport; endeavour, respect, energy, humility, dedication, collaboration and individual excellence. Lessons for life, not just the playing field. Nothing illustrated this more than the time taken to celebrate victories that ended on the podium, as equally as those that did not.

From the opening remarks, through to the closing fireworks and popping of corks that brought the evening to a close, ‘team’ was unmistakably positioned at the very heart of all of the successes no matter how big or small. Wiggins & Brailsford held aloft the banner for the whole of GB Cycling, Team GB were awarded team of the year, and Lord Coe in his own Lifetime Achievement Award pointed to the Paul Deighton led LOCOG team as critical to the success of 2012.  As a business we are fortunate to have worked with LOCOG placing Paul Deighton into his role of CEO. He was kind enough to speak at our recent Midlands Board Dinner where he graciously laid out the phenomenal scale of team performance it took to deliver the unanimous victory that was London 2012.

There are very few truly singular endeavours in this world. Elite performance is a product of collaborative excellence. Every one must play their part. In accepting the Helen Rollason award, Martine Wright was at pains to thank her circumstance for allowing her to compete in the Paralympics. Magnanimous throughout she named those who saved her life in the 7/7 tragedy, as equally as those who trained her to become the exceptional athlete that she has become.

Leadership is hard to define and great leadership often elusive. If 2012 has reinforced anything, it is that the sum of the parts is almost always greater than the whole. When individuals display the awareness that they can succeed through and with others, they open themselves to performing beyond their personal expectations. As a manager giving and creating the space for performance is at the very heart of successful leadership. On so many levels 2013 has a tough act to follow. The BBC had the evocative tones of Idris Elba to voice the words of the Edgar Albert Guest poem; It Couldn’t Be Done. I simply ask you to look it up and read it. It presents quite a challenge. Momentum and legacy are highly topical. In the words of Vince Lombardi; Winning is not a some time thing, it’s an all time thing. Bring on 2013. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Matt Cockbill is a Partner, and Head of Technology & EMI Practices for Berwick Partners.

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