The Miracle of Teamwork.
The year was 1980 when as the final whistle blew, the Americans Hockey team had won against the Soviets team in the Winter Olympics. As a matter of fact, the Soviets team had stood unbeaten since 1968 in all Olympic matches they had played.
What happened that in 1980 they were beaten by team US? Coach Herb Brooks of the USA hockey team knew that his team would not match the Soviets and so he decided to try something else; strong teamwork among his players.
It is interesting that as coach Herb assembled his Olympic hockey team, he had to substitute more talented players with the less talented ones but who had greater teamwork skills. And as the end result proved, he was absolutely right. As I read this interesting story, I came to realize that teamwork is far greater than talent in ensuring success.
As coach Herb said, to him the players who believed that the team name in front of the sweater was more important than the player’s name at the back was what he was more interested in. That even though you were talented and had personal ego then you were not to make it to his list.
Slightly over a decade ago, the USA basketball team lost to Puerto Rico for the first time in the 2004 Summer Olympics. An answer given by retired coach John Wooden when his views were sought by a sports reporter on why America lost proves that team work is critical.
He replied, “We send great players; they send great teams.” Coach Wooden understood that talent is great but at the end of the day, teamwork determines if we bring the Gold home. And team work begins from the leadership as well as at a personal level before it moves to every other person in the team.
Success depends on teamwork as a matter of fact. It doesn’t matter if it is in sports, business, governments, religious organizations, NGO’s or any other enterprise; teamwork is a critical component to determine their successes. As a leader, one should be in the business of assembling great teams.
To get this team-based success, begin by acquiring top talent. And it will make little sense if one hired great talents into the team and he failed to offer great leadership that will spark the talents into playing their part in the team. It calls that leaders understands the strengths and weaknesses of each team member in order to know how the member can maximally be of value to the team.
Next the leaders need to encourage commitment from the team members. In order for this to work well, the leader must ensure the members commit to each other, to the leadership as well as to the whole vision of the organization or team for that matter.
Also, every team member must be passionate to the cause. For fact, this passion should not be mere passion but rather an intense one. Jokingly, it should be a passion that could be detectable in the blood sample of the team members should they be tested. As a leader, even much is expected of you.
Out of the passion comes the aspect of thinking teamwork all the time. Here comes the concept of the team being more important than the individual. Having greater talent than another team member doesn’t come to play here because teamwork is more about commitment to the success of the team than outsmarting your fellow member.
People who understand teamwork more know that they compete to win as a whole team against another team in case of sports or in beating the competition as opposed to a team member competing to win against a fellow team member. Ego is the number one killer of strong teamwork.
To counter ego, each individual team member needs to be empowered. This is achieved by the leader as well as team members cheering one another and the leadership entrusting the team members with the power to make decision especially those that don’t involve top management about critical aspects of the organization. In other words there is devolution in decision making in the organization.
What entitling people to make decision does is build the aspect of trust and respect. If every team member trusts one another, then the strong teamwork ethic helps in the overall success of the organization. It builds the component of inclusion and feeling of appreciation.
And the team needs to feel trusted and respected by the leadership. With such a mix, each team member will be devoted to ensuring that the organization succeeds and achieves its mission and vision which translates to the team-owned effort for achieving the success.
Always remember that it is the teamwork that brings the gold home and nothing else. Always strive to have strong teams.