“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth
While this quote is in reference to baseball, I think it applies well to our workplaces too. Last week was a truly busy and productive week for my team at work. Each of my team members had big projects they were leading and seminars they were delivering. At the same time, three of us were engaged in delivering a large staff development event to nearly 300 people at one of our colleges. Even through the stress of tight timelines, unexpected set-up and technical challenges, and snowy roads, my team worked together well. Team members who had busier schedules were assisted by others on the team who willingly offering back-up to help complete tasks.
While each of my team members are individual stars in their own right, I have to say that I am glad that we work well together as a team. We are able to accomplish so much more together than we can individually. But, that sense of team cohesion and the trust that goes with it, takes time to develop. It takes shared work where members of the team get to know each other and learn how to contribute their strengths and leverage what their team members do best. It takes a collaborative approach where diverse perspectives are valued and explored. And it takes a willingness to re-prioritize individual plans or work, in order to support the team or a member of the team when needed.
Later last week, after the big staff development event, I was working with a smaller group of leaders at another college. One leader shared that she encouraged team cohesion by including “good news” at the beginning of each of her team meetings. She said that encouraging her staff to share both their personal good news, like having a new grandbaby; or professional good news, like completing a big project, helped her build the connective tissue needed for a team to work well together.
What things have you done as a leader to ensure that (in the words of Babe Ruth), your team plays together?