What Can Teams Teach Us

Lesson number: 

There is a great deal that we can all learn by being associated with teams. Teams come in all sizes and are formed for all causes. Let's take a look at some examples of teams that form. A team can consist of a loving couple; an immediate family; business partners; co-workers; small or large athletic teams; National Olympic teams, research teams; political teams; Red Cross teams; military teams; or just let your imagination take over from here.

There are as many reasons and causes, as there are categories and sizes of teams. However the one reason that people form a team is to unite the skills, strengths and wisdom of many, to accomplish a goal that might otherwise be impossible to achieve alone. Thus, the first order of business for a new team member is to check in all selfish tendencies at the gate, before entering the team. By doing so, the goals of the TEAM become the focus for each participant as opposed to caring about who the best individual contributor happens to be.

Teams share responsibilities and specialize in different skills and performing different duties. The members are extremely dependent on each other and count on each other to come through on their assignments effectively. All of the individual activities must be moderated by a strong leader who knows how to motivate members to perform at their best and follow the rules set forth by the organization. The team leader must keep everyone focused on the goals and avoid wavering and making excuses, which will destroy the morale of team. The team leader must also be proficient in identifying the skill levels and strengths of each member, so that the right assignments are performed by the right members. They must also know how to drive home the point that taking on Individual Responsibilities Makes Teams Win.

Like most individuals who read this article, I have been a team member, team leader and team spectator on many occasions throughout my lifetime. During each occasion, there was always a great deal to learn and many opportunities to build my character. As a team member, I would always play by the rules. If you want to build character for life, you can't expect to do so by stretching the rules every chance you get. Also as a team member, you have to make a commitment to yourself and your team to show up for every meeting, practice or game. The strength of every great team begins in the solidarity of the commitments made by each member. In addition, everyone has to make every effort to perform at their best, in order to achieve the goals and success of the whole team. For example, in order for a symphony orchestra to sound FANTASTIC, every member must practice their small part tirelessly and then perform it flawlessly. If one person comes unprepared or their timing is off, the whole group fails.

As a team leader, I have always tried to be a Great Role Model and set the best possible example for my team members to follow. There just isn't any wiggle room here. You have to say what you do and do what you say. You have to be trusted 100% by each team member and never, ever let them down. At the same time, I believe that you must expect the best performance from each team member. Always be there to help them when they need assistance; but never accept a mediocre performance due to their lack of effort. Also, make sure that everyone CLEARLY understands the rules of behavior of the team. Then enforce those rules with no exceptions. By executing the few suggestions above, leaders can build a team with character, which will enhance the chances to achieve success.

As a team spectator, the most enjoyable teams I watched perform and learned a great deal from were the Cherry Hill, NJ - State and National Championship Babe Ruth Baseball Teams, in 1989. My son was a member of this organization and I watched young players like him perform at high skill levels and grow their character like never before. This organization had a long history of winning teams and the coaches had mastered the skills of pride and workmanship.

To fully understand the significance of these teams, I would need to write another ten paragraphs. However, I will try to briefly describe what made these teams special. The coaches were extremely knowledgeable, mature, fair and experienced (they coached for years and weren't coaching their kids - their kids graduated the league many years before). They orchestrated methodical, hard working, well planned, fundamentally sound practice sessions twice a day in rain, shine or heat (don't dare and miss a practice). The coaches understood each team member's skills and built the team around them. They set high standards for everyone and set great examples of leadership. They took pride in everything they did, especially making each individual player the BEST he could be so that the team could collectively be the BEST it could be. The team goals were to play the BEST and win it all like gentlemen. Of course the parents gave these teams all the support they needed as the National Championship team went 16-0 to win it all. This tournament created so much pride and was a wonderful experience for everyone involved in Cherry Hill baseball. It taught every participant, leader and spectator a great deal about what teams can teach us.

So the next time you are a part of a team as a participant or team leader, always think about what you can learn from the experience. Put your heart, energy and passion into the mission; be 100% committed; leave all selfish tendencies at the gate; and take total responsibility to individually be the best you can be so that you can make the whole team the best it can be! As a spectator be 100% committed to your team. Give them all the support they need. Then sit back and enjoy!