There's no 'i' in team...


Believe it or not, I was a goalkeeper. And quite a decent one. At primary school.

I’ve therefore always had an empathy with them.

Their moments of stunning individual brilliance like this...

Or this...

And their brutally exposed fragilities and failings...


Never more so last week when Loris Karius became the lone scapegoat for Liverpool’s defeat to Real Madrid in the Final of the European Champions League. Shunned by teammates; vilified by fans.

Don’t get me wrong. Professional under-performance must never go unchallenged. Loris is probably pretty well paid for what he does, after all!


However, I thought the visceral manner of his public censure was particularly brutal. And in this respect offers some opportunities for wider reflection on what happens when mistakes are made.

In simple footballing terms, what about all the other outfield errors that occurred, and collectively contributed to the defeat? The missed tackles, shots off target, misdirected passes... maybe that’s just the empathetic ‘keeper in me coming out again!

But In wider terms, what does this perhaps tell us about the culture of successful teams. There’s of course the famous phrase, originating in sport, that ‘there’s no I in team’. I’ve always taken this to mean that truly effective teams work together in order to achieve a common goal, succeeding – or failing – collectively, with the contribution of all equally valued.

And when individual underperformance in relation to the achievement of that goal is identified its surely about, in the first instance at least, providing appropriate levels of support and guidance.

As Matthew Syed, the author of ‘Black Box Thinking’ puts it  ‘the paradox of success is that it’s built on failure’. It’s what as an organisation we are prepared learn from our mistakes that really counts. Blame alone merely creates a climate of fear; fear of being creative and of taking - calculated - risks; the basis for any organisation that’s committed to learning and continuous improvement.

It’s certainly an approach we aim to take here, with staff and students alike. It’s what I hope you’d expect in any school.

Just like the absence of an I in team. There’s no blame, just learning.