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When is internal rivalry a good thing?


Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome… and Sir Dave Brailsford…

I’m a keen cyclist and a moderately avid follower of the Tour de France. (I can’t wait for the Cambridge stage, traffic problems and all!) I’ve been intrigued by the ongoing saga of Britain’s two Grand Tour greats and TdF winners, Wiggins and Froome. Both great athletes, worthy yellow jersey wearers – and both fiercely competitive and wanting to lead the Sky team this year.

It now looks very unlikely indeed that Wiggo will ride in the Tour, given his crash and withdrawal from the Tour of Switzerland, but prior to that, I was struck by some of the parallels to be drawn (as so often) between sport and business.  Who is going to get promoted?  Who is going to lead the team?  Who’s meeting their targets?

And most interestingly – what role has Brailsford played in the build-up of the last few months, if you continue the business analogy?  An HR manager with two star divisional heads?  A CEO who’s been busy with loftier issues than two team-members taking potshots at each other on the factory floor?

Is it a good thing to have a bit of healthy internal rivalry, or is it damaging to the team and its suppliers and customers (Team Sky’s fanbase?) to have some dirty linen aired in public?

Certainly in a busines context, it’s almost universally agreed that conflict within a team leads to reduced productivity (google ‘resolving team conflict’ to see copious advice!).  I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Team Sky have the yellow jersey in Paris for a clue as to how productive the team is now…

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