Many leadership consultants spend a lot of time talking about the word “team”. We all acknowledge that having all employees on the same page as it concerns company and departmental goals and being trained the same way so that everyone knows what’s going on is a great thing. But is that what being a team is all about?

Nature's Finest Elite Pond Diving Team -- Explored
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As a comparison, let’s look at teams as it applies to the sports world.

All teams work hard to become a cohesive unit. Timing is of the essence in most sports, so the players will practice the same moves over and over until they get it to the best of their ability. The best teams do this very well and often, which explains why some franchises are consistently at the top.

Even so, what makes a team great isn’t the always all the parts, but the superstars. No matter the team sport, each team is only as good as its top players.

Take basketball for instance. Does any team without at least one superstar ever win a championship? Do the Chicago Bulls win 6 championships without Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin? Did the Los Angeles Lakers have any chance of winning the championship in 1989 once Magic Johnson was injured?

In one of my more creative moments, I once wrote an article comparing employees to Cling Wrap. My premise then was that to get a team to play like a unit and be the best they can be, you need a mix of talent instead of everyone being a superstar or being “just good”.

Just like Cling Wrap, which is pretty good on its own, every person I know that has Cling Wrap in the house also has other things like it but dissimilar enough to be useful. In other words, everything has its place; the team is stronger than the individual but something has to be the number one option. Maybe I should have chosen duct tape instead. 🙂

It’s always good to have a team where everyone is very good, where managers have made sure that everyone’s had the opportunity to be the best they can be. It makes the department run well and everyone knows they’ve had the same opportunity for success.

It’s also true that having some employees who are rock stars helps an entire team work better and come together as one. Are you wondering why?

The reason is that no matter how good a leader you are, and how close you are to those who work for you, if you hold a position higher than they do there’s a limit to which they can identify with you. Even if you once worked with them, at some point you’re in a different space than where they are; that’s the way it has to be.

Yet, having someone who’s one of them, a regular employee, who also stands out based on skill and expertise, fosters better feelings because they everyone now has someone else they can go to instead of just the person in charge. Sometimes there’s jealousy, but most of the time I’ve noticed that employees tend to rally around someone they respect who works alongside of them.

Back to the initial question; what is being a team all about? To me, a team is a cohesive unit of people with different levels of skill that find a way to come together to achieve great things. Everyone’s trained the same, everyone knows their roles, but some people are going to stand out more than others. In the long run, when one person wins, everyone wins.

Winning solves all problems; isn’t that a great thing?
 

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