One Word... Team

This is the next post in a series on single words with big implications for us as leaders. Previous posts have focused on Vision, Data, Diversity and more. Today’s word: Team. Obviously, I have a strong bias on this one since I wrote a book entitled, The Secret of Teams and the companion Field Guide.
This weekend, we shot the final footage for The Secret of Teams video series. It will be available later this fall. The setting for the shoot was PNC Park in Pittsburgh, home of the Pirates. In addition to a stunning venue, it was the perfect setting for me to think about why I’m such a big fan of teams. Here are some of the reasons…
Teams allow people to maximize their individual contribution. When we’re part of a strong team, we can focus on our strengths. I was reminded of this in Pittsburgh this weekend. When we were in the bull pen, I knew this is where the relief pitchers hang out during a game. Each of them is ready and willing to make their unique contribution when called upon. Because others were hitters and others outfielders, these men could concentrate on what they did best. Good teams allow people to play to their strengths.
Teams can accomplish what individuals cannot. Here are a few fun facts: When Walt Disney made Snow White, he supervised over 700 animators. When Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling, he did so with the help of many assistants and other painters. And, when NASA wanted to put men on the moon, they employed over 400,000 men and women to make that dream a reality. I don’t want to invest my life in something so small I can do it by myself. A big dream requires a strong team.
Teams create capacity. When a leader decides to empower a team, the impact is dramatic. Not just in terms of results - yes, results will improve. But perhaps of equal or greater value is the capacity a leader can create when other capable people put their hands on the rope. More people pulling in the same direction is always a good outcome. As a result, senior leaders can be freed up to do only what they can do. 
Teams outperform individuals. The evidence is clear on this one. When a team combines their experience, education, passions, personalities, creativity, intellect and their judgment, the results speak for themselves. This collective experience and wisdom translates into real, tangible results! Teams create competitive advantage because…

None of us is as smart as all of us.tweet_bird

Teams are life-giving. When a team is working well, there’s nothing quite like it. To be a member of a high performance team is one of life’s great pleasures. For those of you who’ve never been on a team like I’m describing, this may seem like a stretch. It’s not. When a team is comprised of the right people with appropriate, diverse skills and the team is pursuing genuine community, the personal benefits almost defy description. To be part of a group in which people know, serve, celebrate, mourn and love each other is priceless.
As I’m writing this, I realize this list could be much longer. As I confessed in the beginning, I’m a big fan of teams! If you’ve not been part of a team that enjoys the benefits I just listed, maybe today is the day you decide to build one.[GLS_Shield]
Why are you a fan of teams?

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8 years ago

I'd much rather pull on the rope with other team members than all by myself ... strength in numbers. Thanks, I like that picture which stood out to me.
Sometimes I feel like I have to come up with all the answers myself and figure the plan out on my own, and can forget that including others is profitable and likely will enhance the project or the dream.
Any suggestions for when you don't feel like you're on a high performance team? What to do when you have vision and drive, yet you're alone in that passion and effort? I sometimes feel alone, not joined by other team members or even those who could be leading me.


8 years ago

Micheal, thanks for your message! I've been on some teams that weren't high performing - unfortunately, I led a few of them. Regarding what to do if you find yourself on an underperforming team, it depends. It depends on whether you are the leader of the team or not. If you are the leader, you make a decision to become one and get to work. The harder scenario - if you're not the leader. I don't want to give a superficial answer here, I'll write more about your question in the future. For now, I would suggest you re-dedicate yourself to helping your leaders be wildly successful. He or she will appreciate your help. Over time, you may earn the opportunity to share some of the ideas about how to create a high performance team. I know this is a hard, and often long, journey. Unfortunately, you don't have many options. Good luck. Thanks for joining the conversation! Mark

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