You may have a talented team with a clear Vision; perhaps you have even identified core Values and behaviours. Yet, the soft, intangible side of the team—the connections, Relationships, Bonding, and Identity—often make the difference between good and great teams.
RELATIONSHIPS, AND PUTTING THE TEAM FIRST
Many of us may recall of Germany’s football triumph in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They crushed Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final and breezed through the final against Argentina to take the Cup. How did they get there? They made the calculated investment in an intense training camp away from distractions in Santo Andre, a remote part of Brazil. For over five weeks they trained day in and day out.
Fans were struck by the team’s synchronicity. To achieve that sense of fluidity, they had to bond with strong, deep, and trusting mutual relationships, knowing each player’s strengths, weakness, styles, and chemistry. They needed to know what works and what doesn’t work when they play together. They had to communicate and interact at the highest level of the game.
The German National Team also possessed massive pride and a sense of Identity as the best in the globe. They had an overwhelming desire to achieve, and an unrelenting aspiration to win, and win big. Certainly, they had very High Team Quotient (TQ). All other goals were subordinate to winning. They understood it was a team goal, and putting the team first was what really mattered. Individual aspirations were subordinated to team aspirations. Moreover, each team player knew that if Germany was successful, their careers would get a boost!
This led to the axiom:
Team success = Individual success
It does not, however, necessarily work the other way around:
Individual success ≠ Team success
In the 2014 World Cup, the best-recognized players—Neymar (Brazil), Ronaldo (Portugal), Messi (Argentina), and the like—were unable to translate their individual genius to the team. Individual stars don’t necessarily make a team successful. That brings up one of the key points for a team:: every member must have the intention to deepen their relationships and the willingness to invest in them.
When I work with clients, there are always team members who balk at spending more time with the team. The attitude may be, “Everyone is busy, let’s finish the meetings and get on with our work.” High Performance Teams enjoy the challenge of working together towards success. They have fun together. Yes, High Performance Team members, enjoy each other’s company, and look forward to interacting..
Strong Team Identity is an intangible element present in all High Performance Teams. Just as the German team had built a phenomenal Team Identity for the World Cup 2014, Brazil lost theirs.
Brazil used to be the epitome of the “beautiful game,’ but the team of 2014 had completely lost it thanks, in part, to the their coach, Luis Scolari. He preferred to play with bigger players who were willing to foul and defend with vigor. Fast-paced passing was replaced with attempts to move the ball a long distance.
In addition, Brazil became a “European team” with 19 of its players on the national team squad contracted with European teams. There was a lot of ‘talent’ on the Brazil squad with Neymar, César, Silva, and others, but Brazil looked anemic in its matches, a mere shadow of its former great teams. Their fellow countrymen heaped on criticism.
As in sports, Identity is fundamental in High Performance Teams, and a key part of TQ. One of the questions I ask team members is to rank their sense of Identity with their a) industry, b) company, and c) team. If the Team Identity is not ranked first, it is unlikely to be a High Performance Team.
If Identity is so important, what does it consist of? Strong Identity is a by-product of being able to relate to and feel good about the team, what it stands for, and the success it creates, as well as the relationships and camaraderie experienced by its members. Essentially, teams need something to be proud of and strive towards.
The strongest form of Team Identity comes from an unyielding commitment to success based on the goals the team has set for itself. All team members must be committed to contributing to success. This creates a palpable ‘buzz’ about the team. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team and the sense of Identity that ensues.
Douglas Gerber is Founder and CEO of Focus One, a consulting firm that helps leaders create High Performance Teams. After 23 years as a corporate executive, he developed a reputation for building successful teams. Later, as a consultant, he has personally worked with leaders from over 70 companies to develop their own winning Teams. Drawing from his own extensive background and 10 years of research, Douglas innovated the concept of “Team Quotient” (TQ). He is a thought leader in the area of team transformation. Learn more about Douglas and his upcoming book Team Quotient: How to Build High Performance Leadership Teams that Win Every Time on www.douglasgerber.com