March Madness: Learn How to Work as a Team

It happens every year.  Thousands of college basketball fans get wrapped up in the fervor and zeal of March Madness. Watching these athletes play is a true lesson in teamwork and communication. As Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

With all the attention on basketball, it got SGA thinking, how do we think as a team when it comes to public outreach and education campaigns?

In sports, everybody on the team knows their roles and how important their positions are to bring about success. Coaches strategically place players in positions that will use the player’s abilities to the utmost potential.  Ideally, every player will play his or her best and work with other team members in the hopes of bringing home the trophy.

Companies, departments, and businesses should function in the same way.

Just like a winning team, instead of focusing on what people are doing and their predetermined roles, it is best to use each team member’s strengths at the right moments.  A strong player like Lebron James is more than capable of making the shot, but he’s also an excellent passer and that can be what the team needs. We all have projects we work on together with endpoints, so for any project, we should ask these questions:

  1. Is this team working towards a clear goal?
  2. Is that goal real enough? Tangible enough?
  3. In basketball, the increased points on the scoreboard indicate success. What type of action or goal produces an increase in points within the work that we do in our teams?

With the spirit of March Madness, SGA compiled four core indicators of successful teamwork:

Trust. Each individual team member brings unique skills and characteristics to the table. Overall, team strength is a sum of all of the members’ individual talents.  The key differentiator at play is trust because without it, the team will only be as strong as its weakest member.

Empathy. Everyone has seen it:  Coaches losing their cool during a bad game.  Their frustration and anger usurp their ability to coach confidently and calmly.  What players need to hear from their coaches are the next viable plays in a calm and confident tone. Team leaders must set the example for team members to encourage, rather than criticize each other when the stakes are high.

Appreciation. Teamwork means understanding and appreciating individual team members’ roles, traits and skills.  Each player understands his or her role and appreciates the other teammates’ respective contributions.

Management. Every team suffers devastating defeats, however, it’s how the team’s leader manages the failure that matters. Leaders can capitalize on a setback by transforming it into a learning opportunity. Learning to overcome adverse circumstances in the future transforms failure into fuel for future team success.

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