The 1992 men’s Olympic Basketball team has been described by many as the greatest sports team ever assembled. As a result, the team was given the name Dream Team. As a basketball junkie, and a player who grew up with these superstars in the 80’s, I couldn’t wait to watch them play in the Olympics! The team did what many predicted, and handily won every game they played. They defeated every opponent by an average of 44 points; the players on the other teams were not only overwhelmed by their play, but also in awe of these superstar players being on the court at the same time. Since the original Dream Team, no other USA team has really been able to compare.
The Dream Team had exceptional talent at every position, a team made up of the greatest of all time, so talent alone would guarantee their wins. It might look different for us as most of the teams we lead are made up of lots of different types of people, and many that are not all talented in the same way. Despite the discrepancies that may exist in talent and skill, all great teams have a few things in common:
Every great team is united. Hellen Keller is quoted as saying, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Teamwork is about standing on the line together and supporting one another through the highs and lows. Great teams unite around common mission, and help each other execute their roles in the accomplishment of the mission they serve. They don’t allow outside forces to destroy one another, always playing offense together against what comes against them.
Every great team has short memories. If you’ve ever played sports, you know that in order to be successful, you have to have a short memory during games. If you or your teammates make a mistake, you can’t continue to live out the mistake…you have to move on to the next play. Great teams don’t stay too low in the lows, or too high in the highs. They are always learning from and growing to the next opportunity.
Every great team is responsible to not for. This may be the most important quality of great teams. Teamwork is about working together, and the best teams that work together are the teams that understand they are responsible to their team’s success and contributing to it, but not for the success of others. President Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” Every team member should focus on being responsible for what they bring to the team, and not worrying about credit or accolades. The team, working together, is responsible for outcomes.
Every great team is agile. I can be accused of overusing this word, but it is one of my favorite words when talking about leadership. Teams that work great together are agile – able to take on, accept and manage change and obstacles when they come their way. We have to move quickly, lightly, and in a graceful manner together through change or obstacles. Teams that have members who can’t do this tend to clog the effectiveness of the team.
Questions for you:
- What qualities make your team successful?
- Where does your team need to improve?