Posted by Anni M.
When I was in high school and college, I was a member of the soccer team. Though I had several different coaches over those eight years, something we never lacked was an overarching enthusiasm for the sport and for our school. We did a lot of community-building—rallying to get our classmates excited about our games, holding bake sales and other fundraisers to pay for uniforms and team travel, and hosting other schools for weekend tournaments that brought attention and economic support to our school and town. I have always been fascinated by the correlations between successful teams in sports and in business. Many of the interpersonal skills I learned playing soccer translated directly to my business relationships. I was used to following direction, hard work, dedication, practice, and to encouraging my teammates. I knew what it meant to commit to something bigger than myself. I also knew what it meant to organize support and to garner enthusiasm—two very important things in developing business relationships.
Being a “team player” is constantly touted as a desirable skill for an employee but what it really means is rarely explored. There are the obvious elements: a willingness to listen to others, to share credit, to collaborate, and to delegate responsibilities. But there is so much more to it than that. Being on a team means sharing the same goals with your teammates. It means sharing a clear-cut group focus. This is what sports teams achieve and what business teams often don’t. In sports, the goal is simple: winning the game. In business, goals are often more nuanced and complex. Individuals have different ideas about how those goals should be accomplished, and they have different agendas based on potential outcomes.
Perhaps the most important single thing sports teams can teach us is how to develop team spirit. When you care more about your team’s success than your own, individual agendas fade into the background. Human beings love to be part of something, to feel camaraderie and friendship, and to have a community, however small, with which to share success. Teams provide a mini-community, a social network that depends on every member’s hard work. Building team spirit may take time, but you can look to high school and college sports teams for inspiration. While pep rallies may not exactly translate to the business environment, photo contests, bake-offs, paintball retreats, or office parties do. In essence: hold an event, the sole purpose of which is to celebrate and encourage your team. Other employees will wish they were a part of the team and they will work harder to form teams of their own. Members will feel encouraged and excited, ready to take on whatever challenges arise.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..