How do you build a successful team? Are great leaders born or made? Can you buy a winning team?
Take for example the New York Yankees with one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball. They make the playoffs by winning their division or obtaining the wild card every year, but the ultimate title of a World Series Championship is never guaranteed. Why?
Yes, it’s true. In sports, there are some not-so-controllable variables such as team chemistry and luck. However, creating a successful team all starts with a great leader who identifies and implements all that is required to build a winning team.
This applies to business as well as sports. Simply replace the sports-lingo with business terminology. Whether you are coaching a sporting team or managing a high tech company, the components required to build leading teams are the same.
Here are my philosophies to teamwork & leadership that I’ve applied in business as well as sports:
1) Find the right players. Talent helps because you can’t make a donkey win the Kentucky Derby. If you need a Database Administrator, don’t hire or promote a Help Desk who played with Microsoft Access.
2) Give each player a valued role. Everybody is important, from your cleaning staff to the CEO. Everyone needs a valued role and team ownership, to create a sense of self-esteem to the individual. Without them, you couldn’t be a team.
In acting, the supporting actor is just as important as the lead actor. In Baseball, the pitcher may get all the glory, but someone has to play right field to make a team of nine players. Leave the individual ego aside, don’t worry about the glory.
3) Create a unique identity to the team. Give your team a nickname, or better yet, let them decide one. Sometimes that mental edge is all the confidence they’ll need. Success is all about confidence. Success is a team spirit.
4) Commit to excellence, not winning. The people on your team must have the drive to succeed. They perform and execute even their simplest tasks with pride.
In sports, winning is the end result of a numerical score. You can win a game numerically, but lose the game in reality and execution.
Thus I prefer to use the term excellence. If you’re a janitor, then you set out to be the best janitor out there.
5) Give them a vision. A vision inspires and motivates the players or employees.
What drives them? What is the goal? Going IPO for a start-up? Super Bowl? Money? If you have someone on your team who is there just for the money, punching in at 9 am and punching out a 5 pm, that person isn’t going to help your team succeed.
6) Play or work with passion. Every person on your team must love what they are doing. They must be passionate about their expertise. Such individuals don’t sleep very often. They are up early, ready to get the day started.
7) Get out of the way. Sometimes, you just have to give them the ball and let them do their thing. Stay off the field and let them execute!
When you’re getting it right, the end result is usually a team whose sum is greater than the individual parts, achieving more with less.