Yesterday Finland knocked Russia out of the men’s Olympic hockey tournament. Fans and pundits were shocked. The Russian team was a powerhouse, loaded with National Hockey League stars.
As I listened on the radio, one voice offered a different opinion. Russia had the individual talent, but couldn’t play as a cohesive unit. Finland played as a team.
Teamwork matters, in sports and at work. It’s time for you to create a work team that can go up against anyone and come out on top. When the Olympics end, find your inspiration by watching these movies: Hoosiers, Moneyball, and Miracle.
Just as in the movies, it will be a struggle. You may have to replace some players. People won’t like the changes. You will doubt you are doing the right thing.
Do it any way. Make the investment. I’m cheering for you.
Because there isn’t a gold medal on the line, let me give you five reasons teamwork will help you succeed.
1. Solve complex problems
The toughest problems challenge us because as individuals we don’t have everything we need to solve them. I have my limited skills and knowledge, but need more. If I join with someone, that person contributes some of the same skills, but also some that I don’t have. Together we’ve increased our capability. More people means more skills. Eventually, by working together, we will have what we need to solve the most difficult problems.
When given a choice, most of us will choose the easy path, the one we’ve traveled many times before. This path may be okay, but it never changes. If we are to do something new, we need a catalyst. Perhaps it is seeing someone else make a different choice. Maybe it needs to change because the person you are working with refuses to walk your way. In both cases, there is an opportunity to find another path. On that path innovation occurs.
3. Increased production
Our energy levels wax and wane. On a recent trip to Thailand, I heard a story about a song rice farmers sing to one another as they work the paddies under the scorching sun. The song encourages one another to keep going and not give up. When we work together, we work harder. We share our energy. We contribute what we can to increase the team’s output.
4. More flexibility
Look around your organization, all those different functions, each with a person or team meeting the demands. But what happens when the demands in one area increases or the person who is responsible for that function is sick? Now you have a problem that teamwork can solve. Strong teams cultivate specialists, but they also have people with enough knowledge and flexibility to shift when necessary. This helps the team more easily adapt to changing circumstances.
5. More fun
This one’s debatable. Susan Cain would argue we put too much emphasis on teamwork and don’t leave space for the introverts who prefer to work on their own. I agree. But for those who don’t prefer to work by themselves, teamwork creates a more fun environment. I’ve met people who work on assembly lines, doing what seems like a really boring job. These same people tell me they like their work. Why? It’s their coworkers. They appreciate the camaraderie.
Succeed with teamwork
Teamwork helps you achieve your goals. It worked for Finland. The analyst concluded it came down to being able to play as a team.
If it can work for a hockey team, it can work for your team. Invest in them as a group, and succeed by capitalizing on these five teamwork benefits.
Image credit: Rhys A.