Why All-Star Teams Fail
By Gregg Gregory
further than the U.S. basketball team during the world championships
in 2006. With a super successful coaching staff and a team full of
National Basketball Association (NBA) stars, 12 to be exact, they
finished third in the world games, losing to Greece … a team with
not one NBA player. Sports reporters from around the country wrote
headlines like, “Show me a team of misfits playing like ‘a team’ and
they can beat superstars any day.”
All-Star teams aren’t just a sports theme; they have been a
challenge facing businesses for years. Companies want to a
super-star leadership team and end up tumbling. Look at Enron …
superstars from the top down, and what happened there?
Generally speaking, someone is selected to an All-Star team because
of the talents displayed in the “work” environment. This can be a
sports field, a sales industry or a standard office environment.
theory, All-Star teams should be ultra successful. So why do many
The organization has not built a culture of trust and respect:
All-Star teams are usually built from stellar performers,
with enormous egos, which may translate into a lack of trust.
Superstars like the limelight; while they may not distrust someone,
they may not easily trust others, or be trusted themselves.
trust and respect, the team lacks a solid foundation. So, as an
All-Star team leader, how is this countered? Building trust is easy
– not necessarily simple, but relatively easy. Some people are more
trusting than others, and some hold back because of previous
experiences. Regardless, the most effective ways to build trust are:
what you mean and mean what you say
speak and act with integrity
consistent between word and deed
out of the gossip and rumor mills
trust and respect are developed, teams members are able to focus on
the overall mission without worrying about a backstabbing teammate.
If trust is breached, it becomes more difficult, but not impossible
to rebuild the next time.
Failing to create the chemistry necessary to succeed: In the
movie “Miracle” Kurt Russell acting as U.S. Olympic Team coach Herb
Brooks says, “I am not looking for the best players, I am looking
for the right players.” This is critical to understand when it
comes to an All-Star team’s success. Whether in sports or business,
an All-Star team must have the right players in the right positions.
If not, a team may pursue a common goal, but when the players are
not complementing each other’s skills and mindsets, disaster will
strike the core of the team.
the chemistry of your team? The more you know about team members
professionally and personally allows the team to gel much more
quickly and effectively. Remember the best players aren’t always
the right ones. Team chemistry allows for trust and respect while
all members continue to focus on accomplishing their individual and
team productivity goals.
Lack of mutual accountability: It is one thing for the
management to hold everyone accountable – they should – and it is
even better when members hold each other accountable. Some of the
best teams are those whose leaders are only a resource in the event
of a problem. Team members take care of the basic problems as they
arise by holding each other 110 percent accountable. As an example,
the Hillstone Restaurant Group – which owns several restaurants
including Houston’s, Gulf Stream and Bandera – follows this
strategy to a tee. Each server has immediate responsibility for
his/her tables, as well as assisting other servers in getting the
food out, tables bussed and checks paid. In most restaurants of
this nature, the servers pool their tips at the end of the shift,
however, here they hold each other accountable and do not share in a
tip pool. This concept raises the level of service throughout.
organizations have accomplished this result by having customers and
other departments complete a satisfaction survey that involves not
just one person, but the entire team … and everything from bonuses,
performance evaluations and increased pay depends on the team’s
survey result. Everyone is held accountable, resulting in a
Poor team language: Communication is the root of most problems,
and ineffective teamwork is no different. While traditional
communication between two people is vital, ineffective internal
communication in a team setting will result in disaster.
first sign of an internal breakdown is “me” centered language, which
is not healthy to accomplish the ultimate goal. Often this occurs
in the subconscious mind and is never noticed. In the workplace the
language typically sounds like, “I think it should have been done
this way” or maybe, “I just don’t get it.” One of the biggest
offenders is the phrase “It’s not my job.” These are all “me”
statements because they revolve around one person rather than the
team. Every team goes through a development process. In the
beginning each member is about his or her individual performance,
and as the team matriculates, it becomes more about the whole of the
team begins to trust and respect each other, the process moves more
smoothly. A successful leader focuses on the communication of “we”
and not individual success or failure. Once the mind begins to
process the difference in internal language, the external language
follows suit. In a team environment, it’s what went right or wrong
not who succeeded or who caused the mishap.
team performs at peak levels, everyone feels as though they were an
integral part of something successful. Success allows the team to
experience more focus, cooperation, productivity and impact
throughout the entire organization, as well as to their customers
is not about getting along with everyone because, let’s face it,
that will never happen. If we understand another person’s
behaviors, and adapt ours to a more team-centered approach, we can
become better producers. That is the little secret of playing nice
in the sandbox.
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about Gregg Gregory.
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