Chances are that March Madness has been getting your attention over the past couple of weeks. As the ‘final four’ emerges soon, we get to watch teams work together like well-oiled machines. They read each other well, anticipate what their teammate is about to do and know where they need to be; and they recognize their individual win is only there because the team is successful. What did it take to achieve this? A LOT of work on the part of the player, clear guidance and overall, the recognition that the individual wins only because the team wins. This is the essence of ‘Team Spirit’.
What March Madness Demonstrates That Can Be Applied to a Work Team?
I have the opportunity to work with individuals in the business world, most of whom are a part of a team. And the learning from March Madness has dual application. The first is the learning that can be applied to the team as a whole. Consider these lessons and consider from the vantage point of your team:
- Rooting for more than just ones’ own team
when watching the games all of us have our favorite team be one an alma mater, the underdog or oftentimes more than one team. The same holds true in business. One can root for and support a variety of ‘teams’ that enhance everyone’s experience. And most often overall success requires the ‘win’ provided by various teams.
- A shared level of excitement and enthusiasm regardless of position
Regardless of the role one plays on the basketball team, all share the same level of enthusiasm and the energy that requires. From the bench or the court the passion and drive to win is shared and ever present. At work, having an organization’s members understand and root for the same success regardless of their individual role definitely impacts the success achieved.
Regardless of a team being ranked number 1 in their bracket or clearly being seen as the underdog,
it is prudent that all believe in the underdog as this year’s contest has demonstrated. And applying this to a business wherein one might be competing against some giants is key and one only needs to believe a win is possible.
- Don’t take a win for granted
So far this year’s tournament has spoken to this not once but three times wherein top seeds have been eliminated. It appears evident that the losing teams anticipated a relatively easy win. In business, preparation and seriousness are needed for even the simple of small tasks. Indifference can breed failure.
- Learn from mistakes and move forward
Within March Madness one either wins or goes home. Regardless of a game’s outcome it is
very important to review mistakes and learn from them. In a team sport or a business learning from a less than result allows it to benefit the next time one is in a similar situation.
The Importance and Value of ‘Clicking’ With Teammates For Success
The second area of learning that comes from March Madness is a big source of frustration with the inability to ‘click’ with other team members. They all know how important strong communication is to accomplish the team’s goals and tasks. And yet, not clicking gets in the way of this. The curious thing though, is that there is often a tendency to just accept this fact with a shoulder shrug – “oh well … you can’t mesh with everybody”. Sadly, there is a tendency to settle for this as ‘just the way it is’. But wait a second! Isn’t there a cost to “just settling”. Of course, there is! As it turns out, the cost is real and potentially significant. And more than that, it’s not necessary. Here are steps that are within each individual’s power to change relationships for the better.
- First … You must buy into the fact that the better the entire team meshes and works well as a team, the more realistic is the ability to reach the goal in the most effective way. If you don’t believe this … STOP reading, as the rest of the steps will be meaningless.
- Second … You must allow yourself to be curious as to what is getting in the way of you “meshing” with your fellow team members.
- Third … you must be willing to identify the issues that you sense with any team member and then … address them. Is your issue based on fact or assumption?
- If based on fact, what would you like to see change and what are you willing to do to make that happen?
- If based on an assumption, you’ve made a judgment that is potentially wrong and you need to ask for clarification. Often the clarification alone clears up the issue.
- Fourth … With clarity about the issue, you now can create an alliance with that person going forward. Creating and maintaining the alliance helps to avoid falling into old habits. You can now confidently move forward in the spirit of cooperation and success.
- What do you want to count on the other person(s) to do, to say or to act and under what circumstances?
- And in exchange, what they can count on you for under the same circumstances?
Good communication requires that we learn to be as good at listening as we are a communicator. Truly exciting is to witness clients who did not “mesh” and just tolerated now soar both individually & as a team. Why? Because they have chosen to move away from tolerating to be positive & intentional about relationships w/fellow team members.
For the next couple of weeks we have games to watch and teams to cheer. Hopefully as we witness some of the magic, we will see the connection will become apparent. What is the learning that can be applied to the organization, the team or the individual? What can we take as a fan of this pastime and bring it to life in business? If we let it, we are going to have a take-away from March Madness that can put us
on the winning team.