The Try-umph of Team Performance: Your Roles & Responsibilities

Happily the sparkle of the Springboks’ World Cup win has not quite faded. But before it does, there’s an important employee engagement lesson to be learned.

In the grand arena of business, every day can feel like a hard-fought match. The light shines down on us; the crowd roars with joy or dismay; support or disdain. The stakes are high. We want to win and we want to earn and maintain our status as a world-class team of performers. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t?

But we’re so tired. So overloaded. So ‘over it’. YouTuber, author and thinker Penuel (The Black Pen) Mlotshwa gets it. In his now-viral LinkedIn post, he wrote:


“It is unfair of us ordinary South Africans to keep demanding the Springboks give us hope through their victories, when we don’t meet them halfway.

After…the hype has died down, how will you show that you’ve learnt from them in your own life?

  • Will you work your hardest in your job?
  • Will you push hardest in your business?
  •  Will you be a world-class public servant?
  •  Will you roll your sleeves up and help to fix and build this nation?

In the midst of the hysteria, we’ve forgotten to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we actually deserve to have a team like the Springboks?

Do we deserve watching them strategize, bleed, injure themselves, and be such amazing ambassadors, when we seem to not do our bit to make South Africa great?

It’s time you start treating yourself like a Springbok. It’s time you start working in and building world-class teams. It’s time you start putting in your best efforts in your job. It’s time you start serving the public as if you’re competing with the best in the world. It’s time you speak positively about this nation…

It starts with you. The Springboks have given us everything. Now it’s up to us.”


If you really take in Penuel Mlotshwa’s words you’ll realise that he’s calling for us all to raise the game. To change what we think of as ‘enough’, so we come to envision “realistic greatness” (this magnificent phrase comes from football coach Woody Hayes via his protegee, football coach Lou Holtz).

The bottom line? Average days should not be the standard.

So if you manage or lead teams, here’s a promise:

When you have high standards, and you believe in your people, they will achieve more than they ever thought. They won’t necessarily like you in the moment. They may find your expectations unfair, your approach unpalatable, your benchmarks impractical. They won’t believe – at first. But it’s your role and your responsibility to get them to believe.

In the workplace we tend to resist pushing people out of their comfort zones, which can make them complacent about mediocrity. But when you hold them to their highest performance standard and you look back after five years, you’ll see that they no longer just kick for touch, but actually shoot the lights out.