Former UT Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summit and Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski obviously know a great deal about winning. Both have celebrated more than 1,000 wins and both acknowledge the importance of teamwork in those successes. Makes sense, but how does a coach or a business leader get a group of individual superstars to work together as a team.
In one of many interviews, Coach K explained it well, “You develop a team to achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. All of us alone are weaker, by far, than if all of us are together.”
With each new season, college coaches in every sport recruit high school superstars from all over the country to fill the ranks of departing college players. They bring these prep superstars together
and start a process of integrating them into a cohesive college team. Their goal is to convince each and every player that they have to put their egos aside, in order to mold these star players into a unified team. Everyone has to understand their role, buy-in to the team concept, focus on being the best teammate possible and be the best performer possible in th
eir assigned role.
That’s a good lesson we can all apply in business. At Management Solutions, we have a lot of superstars, a lot of nationally recognized people that on an island, could perform very well. But one of my key roles as the President of this company, is to assimilate these rock stars, in their respective industries, to work as a team; to understand what their role is and what everyone else’s roles are. By doing that, each team member can say, “OK, I don’t need to worry about that area, because it’s covered. I need to focus on my role for the good of the overall team.” When you have everyone focusing on their individual roles, that’s when the whole company is elevated. As Tennessee Coach Pat Summit said, “Role playing is uncomfortable, especially for people who are competitive and diverse.”
Most employees don’t come in with that mindset. When they come in and they’ve been that hero at other companies and with their customers, I partner with them, so they know that I want them to challenge us and to challenge each other as peers to always be looking for ways to do things better. I also need them to understand that they’re going to be challenged as well, so I set that expectation upfront. My job is to equip each employee to understand their role, accept their role, and strive to become excellent in it.