Understanding Team Dynamics

Lesson number: 

Most enterprises are made up of a team or several teams of people who must execute the core functions of the organization. Each team is usually assigned a leader who takes the responsibility to choose and direct his or her team members toward the successful completion of the goals of the organization. When success is achieved, the leader can certainly become a hero of the team. When failure is imminent, the leader usually gets the blame. However, for a team to be successful, all of the members must individually take personal responsibility for its success or failure. Without individual commitment and cooperation to perform one's individual responsibilities, the entire team can be doomed toward failure.

At its core, a "team" is nothing but a group of individuals. A team is not an entity that can think, make decisions, and act collectively. Only individuals can do these things. However, some people get confused by these concepts. As an example, let's look at another term to use as an example. Let's look at the word "economy."

An "economy" consists of tens or hundreds of millions of individual transactions that are taking place at all times. Each transaction consists of at least two individuals who mutually agree to the terms of an exchange. So as you can see, the "economy" is not a separate entity. Individuals are at all times deciding whether or not to make an exchange. And since it is the millions of individuals who are constantly making these decisions, it is impossible to ever "run" the economy.

Now let's go back to the word "team," which again is nothing but a group of individuals. In order for a group to be effective, each of the individual members must share a common goal. If you have 5 players on a basketball team, of which only 2 are totally committed and passionate about making it to the finals, the odds of getting there are slim. Since a common goal MUST be shared for the team to succeed, the larger the team becomes, the less likely it will be that all of the individuals will share the same common goal. There is a reason why a basketball team consists of 5 players and not 50 or 100.

To further prove this point; let's examine the word "nation." A nation is nothing more than a group of individuals who happen to live in a specific geographical area. The nation of the United States consists of about 300 million people. With a group that size, it is absolutely impossible to have a common goal. You couldn't even contact everyone to find out if they were all on the same page and agreed. Instead we rely on polls of small samples which are often flawed and produce poor results. The most effective, most dynamic, most amazing groups to watch are those that contain a small group of people, who voluntarily join the group, and who share the same common goal as the other members. These are the groups that revolutionize our world on a daily basis.

For teams to succeed, INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY and near perfect execution of carrying out the well thought out plans of the group is necessary. The best way to commit ones' self is "I'll do my job for you, if you'll do your job for me." With this type of commitment, everyone moves in the same direction, doing their own specific tasks, with the same goal in mind. In tonight's Super Bowl, a New York Giant's defender slipped and missed his assignment. Randy Moss scored a touchdown as a result. On the other side a New England Patriot defender could not bring down Eli Manning when he had the chance. Consequently Manning scrambled free and threw a 37 yard pass that was miraculously caught. This single play contributed to the demise of the Patriot's victory and tarnished their perfect season. Near perfect execution on all teams is critical to achieve success. There's little room for error.

Each team member on all teams contributes different strengths and weaknesses to the team. Everyone should value those differences and capitalize on them. Team members must hold each other accountable for what must be done. They must set high standards for each other and not allow other members to slack off or give less than their best. Peer pressure is a potent weapon in the success of a team. Team members should always reinforce the positive performance of the other members. They should celebrate as a team and always recognize the accomplishments of individual victories of their fellow team members. Everyone must clearly understand that no one wins until everybody wins.

When teams have the right chemistry, they can produce amazing results. We watched the New York Giants produce amazing results tonight. Going into the game 12 point underdogs, and facing a powerful 18-0 opponent, they managed to execute better down to the very last play. The polls were wrong again. Public opinion becomes meaningless when one team plans and executes better than the other. Understanding team dynamics is critical.