Australia’s performance in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was impressive, even for a nation that considers barely scraping into the top 10 a national cause for concern.
What was surprising this time around was the proportion of gold medals to total medals – a whopping 37% – which of course makes all the difference in the final tally.
Don’t get me wrong, I consider any medal a tremendous victory (exemplified by the Boomers’ historic bronze) but there’s no doubt the one most prized by athletes and citizens alike is gilded.
Australia’s upward trajectory was observed by Kieran Pender in Back to square one: how Australia engineered remarkable golden Games.
In the article, Pender boils our success down to investing in the right people around the athletes, backed up by systemic reform and attention to detail. In Tokyo, he writes, the Aussie support team “doubled down on dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s”.
And I think he’s right. A culture of excellence breeds excellence. In contrast, a culture of laziness and unaccountability breeds apathy and mediocrity.
It’s why a football team that pays an obscene amount money for a star player won’t win the cup if the back office is mismanaged. One man doth not a team make, despite what the press perpetuates and the fans believe.
The parallel with the corporate sector is clear. Recruiting good people in the right roles and developing their capabilities is critical, but locked-out technology, backwards policy and arcane processes will only hold them back. In such cases, the “support services” are anything but.
The whole system needs to be firing on all cylinders so that the talent within can do what it does best.