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Lebron without his team, is just a great player who won’t get to this years’ Finals

Forming a strong team requires intentional focus from both the leader and the team itself.

For a team to work, every member must want to be a part of the team and want the team to succeed. I’m looking at some of the news (some true some rumor) coming from the Cleveland Cavaliers and there seems to be a disconnect at the moment. If they don’t close ranks their dream of a repeat is in jeopardy. And like a sports team, if a business team’s members do not pull together, the team will fail in making its obligations.

Staying with the basketball analogy, one of my most favorite movies is Hoosiers. It is a great story of how a small high school decided that as a team they could do more than any single talent on the team could do. Game after game the coach would not let the best shooter on the team take the shot but instead he got the team to pull together as one.

While business is not a sport – there are no trophies or super bowl rings to be won – I have seen business teams do the impossible because they worked together and overcame obstacles. They beat the timeline, overcame the competition and drove their organization to a favorable position.

You’re a team member – how do you “choose to be a great team member”?

  • Learn what your team members do.
    It will help you understand how to support them. It will make communication better. It will allow you to cover during holidays and sick days because you keep the bigger vision in mind.
  • Be approachable.
    Trust is built on open relationships. Trust is built over time. Play the long game.
  • Don’t gossip or talk behind your team members’ backs.
    If you have an issue, get it on the table. Nothing destroys a team more than lack of honesty. Internal strife like we are seeing on the Cavs may hurt their chances come playoff time.

Being a great team member is hard work. However, the rewards can be huge. And like the Hoosiers you can win big. There may not be a trophy in it for you but the self satisfaction of a job well done may be worth it all.

Be intentional

What makes a team, a team?

The other night we watched Believeland, a 30 for 30 sports story on ESPN and it got me thinking about what makes a team, a team?

What makes a team able to achieve more than any of its individual people could on their own? Is Lebron James the greatest ever to play the game? Some would say yes, while others, like my husband would say no. But even having King James on the team hasn’t assured a Cleveland championship.

Every organization needs a complete team in order to achieve its goals. Take for instance my hometown team – the Detroit Pistons. Everyone loved hating the Bad Boys of the 90s but they put together a complete team over a few seasons building toward their back to back championships. They drafted Isaiah Thomas and then built their own culture (and not all of it good).

What makes a team? Is there a secret ingredient or a special sauce? While there are lots of books written on teamwork and team forming, I would like to offer the following as what I think is a team’s “secret sauce”:

1. Someone needs to have the vision to form a team (a team owner like Bill Davidson)
2. There has to be something for the team to rally around (an NBA championship)
3. The team has to own their culture (positive peer pressure and norms)

In order to win, the Pistons needed to build a complete team but they couldn’t do it with just anybody. They needed players who fit their particular culture and bought into their particular vision. I remember an interview where Isaiah said the team’s senior leadership met with incoming players and told them “this is how we do things here”. He said not everyone accepted their vision and as a result they didn’t last long in their organization.

People don’t naturally just become a team because a team doesn’t happen overnight. There have to be shared moments (triumphs and losses) which help the team bond. At some point the players on these respective championship teams knew they “had arrived” as a complete unit. They’d bonded.

We, in the manufacturing world, would do well to think through how we could better form our teams by providing the right vision, the right goal to rally around and by allowing our teams to own their culture. While there won’t be any replays of our successful meetings or deliveries on ESPN, we will have won our own respective championships.

Be intentional