Sir Dave Brailsford: Creating an Outperforming Team

I am a great fan of Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Principal of the Sky cycling team, and I have written before about how his ‘marginal gains’ approach to teaching and school leadership can be instructive – see here. In a new item for ‘Investors in People’, Sir Dave has outlined his five tips for creating an ‘outperforming team‘ – put simply, a highly successful team.

Here are his five tips:

1. Recruit the best people. This isn’t always easy, but school leaders need to prioritise this in their school development. Brailsford indicates that the emphasis should be on finding the people who will best fit into the culture and behaviours of the team, rather than simply their degree of skill.

2. Give people ownership. Trust is a key tenet in all teams and school teachers are no different. It is essential for motivation and it brings with it an shared accountability.

3. Make sure there’s absolute clarity of role, responsibly and boundaries. This is a tricky but essential task for school teachers and leaders. We can too often make assumptions that students understand our boundaries, or that staff understand their role and the role and responsibilities of those in leadership. We can waste time and build frustration if teachers aren’t supported with a great clarity of who does what and why. It takes skillful and relentless communication.

4. Identify the standards which you expect and are going to set. Again, clarity is key. Make clear what your standards of behaviour and performance are by being doggedly determined in making these visible and attainable. Tell stories to make this tangible and be open about the purpose and evidence for your standards.

5. You want happy people and a happy environment. The infamous quote from Sir Michael Wilshaw about a brow beaten and unhappy staff revealing a school leader doing their job well was a real clanger. It sounds light and fluffy, but teachers need to work in an environment of trust otherwise they will not listen to the feedback that will prove so crucial for improvement. You can have high standards but still retain a happy atmosphere and a climate of trust and shared purpose. If you followed the previous four points successful you will likely fulfill the criteria for happy people in a happy environment.

Here is a short video of the man himself articulating his tips for having a great team with a playlist of related videos:


3 thoughts on “Sir Dave Brailsford: Creating an Outperforming Team”

  1. Frederick Sandall

    Useful tips for school leaders but I guarantee that many will struggle with the first one. Recruiting staff is not easy. We don’t tend to see large fields to choose from, even for fairly junior posts. Indeed, even those schools which were attracting larger fields are now struggling to recruit. I also think that staff turnover is going to be more common, as younger teachers go in and out of the profession rather than see it as a job for life. Nothing wrong with that but it will mean that leaders have to accommodate that in their management tools. It is about creating a culture which is so pervasive that people fit in or quickly see that they won’t. If you have such a culture then the majority will grow effectively into the ideal candidate, given that all the other tips are in place too!

    1. Yes – I recognize the issue with 1. Sometimes we can be rather powerless. What you can do is make no.5 a reality and really develop the reputation of the school to make it an attractive prospect.

      1. Frederick Sandall

        Absolutely! It does work! It is amazing how the network spreads news about good schools to,work in!

Leave a Reply


Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox:

Scroll to Top