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June 18, 2018

Winning Team Characteristics

winning team

Stories of powerful group efforts have been around since the Bible stories. Some of the efforts were for a wrong cause, yet some are incredible stories of the power of people coming together… to be a winning team.

Develop a Winning Team

From many stories in history, we can see how to develop successful winning teams. From these experiences we can boil it down to two basic ingredients:

  1. A common goal
  2. Ability to communicate the goal

For years I’ve been involved coaching hockey teams and it’s easy to understand a sports team. The team goal is clear, the scoreboard lights up when the team has reached it… in hockey put the puck in the net… it’s a goal.

You know the hockey players are a team because they wear the same uniform. The team’s purpose and focus is clear, because all eyes and attention are centered on the puck, and all motion swiftly moves toward the puck up and down the rink.

There are also other kinds of teams that are harder to analyze. Wearing the same uniform, whether a jersey or a company shirt, working in the same office, being paid as an independent worker, or volunteering for a non-profit, does not make a team.

Unity of Purpose

Uniformity in appearance or working for the same group is not the key to successful teamwork. The glue that holds a team together is unity of purpose.

We all have memories and stories of talented teams that don’t make it. The team is divided in some way. Because of the lack of teamwork, teams do not achieve what they could with all the talent on the team.

Their goals are not shared or achieved.

There are no simple answers. If teamwork was easy, sports teams would have more back-to-back world champions and the list of Fortune 500 companies would never change.

Winning Attributes of Winning Teams

1)  Winning Teams Play to Win

Team members realize wins and loses are ofter determined by attitude alone. The difference between playing to win and playing not to lose is often the difference between success and mediocrity.

2)  Winning Teams Take Risks

They’re risk takers. They take a risk and let what happens happen. It will make the difference between a successful team and a mediocre one. It’s far better to try and fail than to fail to try. Many well-intentioned people live by the philosophy of never risk upsetting the apple cart. They prefer to “play it safe.” These people will never know the thrill of victory, because to win a victory one must risk a failure.

3)  Winning Teams Keep Improving

They continue to try harder. They realize that when they’re through improving, they’re through. For sports teams it is so hard to win championships for two years in a row. It’s hard to stay on top. It’s easier to win when you’ve got nothing to lose. It never pays to rest on your achievements. You must be willing to give them up if you want to keep winning. The highest reward for improvement is not what we get; it’s what we become as a result of it.

4)  Winning Team Members Care About Each Other

They enhance each other. Each member cares about the success of every other member. Effective leaders realize that before they can be successful, they need to make their team members successful. It marks a big step in your leadership journey when you realize that other people can help you do a better job than you can do alone.

So how do we develop winning teams?

Stay tuned for our next posting, as we dive into the 3 key areas together that determine the success of the team: Hiring, firing, and inspiring.

Do you have a winning team?

Ask yourself some questions:

  • How’s my team’s attitude? How’s my attitude or coaching staff’s attitude?
  • Am I encouraging risk taking? Am I learning from my experiences?
  • What am I trying to improve? Is it to receive something for it?
  • Does my team like each other? Are they working together? Are they performing together?
  • How will I apply these principles to my team relationships?

If you’re interested in more about effective leadership coaching through effective relationships, check the book from Dr John C Maxwell, Be A People Person.

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