When Casey got the award at the annual meeting, no one was surprised. He was a marketing genius, and his team’s success was unparalleled in the history of the company. He was clearly a rising star.
The problem was, his fellow team members thought he was a pain in the neck. He wasn’t a team player, he didn’t share information and he kept recognition for himself.
Although aware of Casey’s lack of team skills, senior management was pleased with the results he delivered, and they were afraid that expecting him to be a team player would dampen his brilliance.
They were wrong.
A team can have both brilliant players and great teamwork… if the team is not built around an individual, if team-oriented behaviors are expected, and if the team is held accountable and recognized for its results.
Take a lesson from Red Auerbach, “the most successful team official in NBA history,” with 16 NBA championships during his tenure. Auerbach redefined basketball to become a game dominated by team play. Although he moved the emphasis away from individual accolades, many of the players he groomed were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, including Bill Russell, Dave Cowens and Larry Bird.
Under Auerbach’s guidance, players discovered that their own brilliance increased when they supported each other’s brilliance and that the team performed at a higher level.
Practicing these 12 team skills will make your team stronger while allowing your own brilliance to shine:
- Pick up the ball. Participate. Share information and ideas.
- Head toward the basket. Keep your contributions relevant. Avoid going off on tangents.
- Be aware of where your teammates are. Listen carefully and openly to other’s ideas and suggestions.
- Understand your team’s positions. Ask questions to help deepen understanding.
- Keep moving. Build on the ideas of others.
- See the whole playing field. Summarize ideas and suggestions.
- Pass the ball. Balance your level of participation with others.
- Cheer your teammates on. Recognize other’s contributions.
- Keep your eye on the ball. Criticize ideas, not people. Be objective and specific in feedback.
- If a team member drops the ball, pick it up. Help your teammates out. Offer ideas for improvement, not complaints.
- Support team decisions. If you change your mind, discuss it first with the team before you announce it to others.
- Wear your jersey. Remember you’re a member of the team. Share responsibility for both the wins and the losses.