Olympic gold medallist: focus on trust in 2019

13 December 2018 -

Ben Hunt-DaviesBen Hunt-Davis says trust and data is a winning formula for managers

CMI Insights

As managers make plans for team development in 2019 and thoughts turn to data analysis and resolutions, one Olympic Gold Medallist has volunteered his own advice.

Ben Hunt-Davis and the GB Men’s Rowing Eight won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. He says they peaked by combining data with old-fashion human instincts. “Leading up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the British rowing team was a data-driven environment,” he explains. “Everything we did was measured. There was information about every physical aspect of the team’s performance. But that alone didn’t make the crew go faster. In particular, we spent a huge amount of time working on trust – an unmeasurable data point.”


To build trust in a team Hunt-Davis recommends that managers include 360-reviews into their performance analysis – that means asking all team members to reflect on results and behaviours. “We spent time off the water talking about how we performed together, paying attention to the relationships in the team,” he adds.

Hunt-Davis’ comments come at a time when CMI Companions are predicting the rise of the ‘super-manager’ – a leader who uses data and personal relationships to propel businesses forward. Maggie Buggie CCMI was among those to suggest that the use of artificial intelligence and automated tasks could free managers up to focus on more person-focused tasks.

Hunt-Davis agrees: “If you invite people to a meeting and make a decision based purely on data it can leave people feeling excluded – senior people are paid lots of money because they have good intuition based on their experience. Super-managers will make sure that people feel involved in the process.”

The importance of trust has been regularly flagged in CMI research and events. The Middle Manager Lifeline showed that 85% of managers think that trust is vital to an organisation’s success and in rapidly growing organisations 68% of managers have high levels of trust in leaders. The survey concluded: “trust and growth go hand in hand”.

Read more: The Middle Manager Lifeline

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