A lone cook in a kitchen can come up with a delicious combination of flavors, but to win big, you need to excel at teamwork.–The Secret Sauce of Teamwork
There are a couple of things I love as much as I love talking about coaching: gardening and cooking…especially on the grill. So when I saw that Harvard Business Review’s blog had an article that combining barbeque and teamwork, I knew I’d bring it on over here.
Putting a different twist on the quotation above: A lone player can be magnificently skilled and a joy to watch, but to win big, we’ve got to excel at teamwork. This thought process has played itself out time and again on every successful team I’ve coached. On paper, we may not be better than the opponent. Maybe even in warmups, we look like we’re going to get creamed…but something magical happens when the right mix of team chemistry combines the right mix of players.
The secret sauce.
3 keys for turning our teams into great teams
Come together. The whole purpose of a team is to do something that couldn’t be accomplished by one person alone. That’s why we come together. Beyond that, we’ve got to define what we want to accomplish…those are our goals. Our teams need goals when they come together at the beginning of the season and believe it or not, our teams need goals to stay motivated to come together each day for practice. Our job as coach is to give our players a reason to come together over a series of weeks and months.
Stay together. There are many reasons teams stay together. The aforementioned need for others in order to complete a specific goal is one reason…but that could be any soccer/volleyball/lacrosse team at any institution. Why should your particular team stay together? I’ve talked about this before but making sure each person on the team has a defined role is crucial. Each player on our team has to believe that they’re part of the secret sauce of our team…that no one else could perform their role as well as they can. This creates players who are invested and teams that stay together.
Work together. Practice after practice, day after day, week after week, and month after month…we ask that our teams work hard. It’s part of that ten thousand hour theory that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in Outliers. As our teams get used to one another, they learn each teammate’s strengths and weaknesses (as well as their own), they learn how each player is motivated, they learn to test the edges of their ability. And eventually…they learn how to work together in order to become a successful team.
The secret sauce? It’s just understanding that individual talent cannot trump team success. Once our teams understand that, they’re on their way to winning big.