Stars get awards—teams win championships
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from business performance improvement expert Larry Valant’s book, Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance.
52 – Stars get awards. Teams win championships.
It was only when Kobe Bryant, the All Star shooting guard for the LA Lakers, discovered that his team won more games when he became a more effective passer and rebounder to complement his great scoring ability did Kobe change his approach to the game to recognize the importance of team. (In fairness to Kobe, it did take a couple of years to provide him with enough competence on the team to make passing a worthwhile investment.) Teamwork put the Lakers in a position to win championships.
The great sport dynasties of the Packers and the Celtics, the Steelers and the Pistons, the Bulls and the Yankees, all had star players. But, these teams won championships not because of their stars but because of the effectiveness of the overall team.
Likewise there are examples of star businessmen who flourished as part of the team, but when released to steer their own ships, quickly ran aground. Even those enduring stars such as Welch from GE, Goizueta from Coca-Cola, Bossidy of Allied Signal, were successful because they were part of a cohesive, well functioning team that excelled in execution.
Want to win a championship? Make sure the stars are less important than and enjoy being a contributor to the team.
53 – Team building takes place when people work together and solve tough problems.
Team building does not take place romping through the woods. While outdoor team building exercises are a great place to get exercise and see who among you is the most athletic, little is accomplished in terms of the team building required in day to day business.
Team building is much like an annealing process: heat forges strength and bonding. The pressures of dealing with tough competition, meeting growth plans, and achieving your business plan all create great heat and put demands on teams that test their ability, cohesiveness, and stamina. Meeting such challenges builds teams.
Those readers who have been through demanding times as a member of a team and emerged as victorious know exactly what this means. The joy of winning and sharing that victory with your teammates is like nothing else in the world.
Team building does not happen because of motivational programs. Team building happens when management provides a set of challenges and delegates responsibility for achievement to a team. The team working together and under competent management delivers the results expected. Those who are part of that team truly get to understand success: what it takes to deliver on time and on budget.
Solving tough problems through a team is true team building. Nothing else comes close.
54 – One of the best measures of a CEO and a company’s executive team is how welcome they are in staff meetings.
One of the most interesting elements of my consulting work occurs when I sit in a staff meeting in which one of the top managers is participating. Groups which welcome the presence of top management reveal that the executive is respected and that positive contributions by him to the meeting’s objectives are the norm.
When we see the opposite, which is by far more common, we know that the manager’s style, capabilities, and values have created a culture of tension and fear. While there are exceptions, observing one member of top management in the staff meetings they attend will tell you about the company and how well it is managed. And in those companies where top management is welcomed into staff meetings, you can invariably look at the financial statements and expect to see superior performance.
Welcomed top management is welcomed not because they are hail fellows well met, but rather because they are respected and valued for their skills and abilities, and their willingness to contribute to their team successes.