But if the selection of the individuals on the team sheet wasn’t predictive of the outcome, then what was? Perhaps two things. Firstly, the hosts had played a cumulative 232 rounds of competition golf on the fairways of Le Golf National. The US team as a whole had played it just eight times (half of them by Justin Thomas who won four points from five). More than a glittering track-record and current form, the European team had each come furnished with the specific skills needed to perform under those unique course conditions. And secondly, and perhaps most importantly, they turned up as a team. This was no more epitomized by what was described by Europe’s Rory McIlroy, as the ‘love-in’ on the team’s WhatsApp group, even though some of the players didn’t even use it before the week began, ‘That was a big part of it,’ said McIlroy afterwards. ‘People questioned the picks and quality and we showed this week our cohesiveness and togetherness.’
The United States team were less cohesive. Commenting on his captain’s selection during the weekend, America’s world 15thranked Patrick Reed complained ‘for somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me (out) twice’. However, his reflections to the New York Times after the event contained greater insight, ‘Every day (in the team room) I saw: Leave your egos at the door. They (the Europeans) do that better than us.’
And so it is with boards. On paper their structures might comply with all the latest governance regulations and their director membership might tick all the boxes in terms of previous experience and purported expertise. However, this same board may be rotten to the core. The gap between the potential quality of dialogue and decision-making dynamics and their actual group performance may be significant.
(Excerpt taken from my latest book - 'Boardroom Dynamics', released in July 2019 by ICSA Publishing).