Team Players

InTouch - Newsletter - #47

Welcome to the forty-seventh edition of "In-Touch". As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please hit let me know what you think in the comments below.

Story of the Week: Team Players

As the referee prepared to blow the half-time whistle, my cousin’s team was only losing 1-0 but they were extremely lucky to have maintained this scoreline, given their poor standard of play. Their only strategy – if I could call it a strategy – was to pass the ball to their lone striker and leave the rest to him. It hadn’t taken the opposing side’s defenders long to work this out.

At half time, their coach bent down and picked up a small stick that was lying there and snapped it in two. He then crouched once again but, this time, he stood up with eleven small sticks in his hand, each the size of the first one that he had broken with ease. Then, no matter how hard he pressed, pulled and twisted them or tried to bend them, the sticks would not break. Eleven sticks of the same size leaning against one another were obviously much stronger than one stick alone.

Both the message and the analogy were crystal clear and, once the whistle blew at the start of the second half, the team we were supporting adopted a new approach to the game. Instead of relying on their lone striker, they began to play as a united and unified force. By doing so, they completed twice as many passes as they had in the first half, kept the ball for twice as long and, most importantly, scored twice, to win by a final score of 2-1.

Whether applied to amateur football or to any team sport at the highest level, this coach’s philosophy was stated eloquently and succinctly by the acclaimed college basketball coach John Wooden in his best-selling book “Leadership”. He recalls how, at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, the USA’s ‘dream team’ failed to win gold, despite consisting of all the top NBA stars of the day: Dwyane Wade, Lamar Odam, Lebron James and others. Despite the calibre of their roster, they lost to teams from Puerto Rico, Argentina and Lithuania. Why the failure? Wooden summed it up like this: “We sent great players. They sent great teams”.

It doesn’t matter how talented certain individuals are. If they can’t work together as a team, they won’t succeed together as a team. This applies to business as much as sport and, as a manager, you are responsible not only for finding the right people but for ensuring that they work with and for one another as they attempt to implement the company’s mission and vision and achieve its goals.

Words of Wisdom

Talent vs. Teamwork

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

Michael Jordan

A Question to Ponder, dear friend.

“Are you relying on great players or developing great teams?”