A secret stash of team builders

When recruiting young new Team Players, where should you look? Business school grads? Championship athletic teams? Military academies?

While those sources will no doubt produce some top-quality team players, you also want to keep your eyes open to what you might consider as Unlikely Sources.

We've had unusually high success, for example, recruiting folks with theater background:  actors, musicians, techs, the works.

"What?" you may be asking yourself. "Flaky theater people? Egotistical divas? You mean, *those* people?"

Not so fast, bub. Yes, the theater does attract its share of folks who think they should be rewarded for their unrecognized brilliance, regardless of whether or not they actually show up for work. But then, so does every other industry.

A recent blog posting by a professor of theater enumerates many advantages that theater majors bring to the game, including:

  • Ability to learn very quickly
  • Ability to juggle a large number and variety of simultaneous tasks
  • Discipline and dedication - they show up, prepared, for an impossible schedule of rehearsals and performances
  • Willingness to perform now for deferred reward
  • Broad vision - ability to see the big picture
  • Good oral communication skills
  • Good problem solving skills
  • An all-for-one, one-for-all attitude, without which the show would never go on

And many more. (See the full article here.)

Having just participated in a major city-wide theater arts project that saw over 100 new works produced in just 10 days, I can vouch for the hard work, dedication, creativity and vision of theater arts people.

Where's your secret stash of team builder?



What "they" say

An ad currently running on TV features Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow quoting his doubters, saying things like:

  • "They said I couldn't be a high school quarterback."
  • "They said I couldn't win a Heisman [Trophy]."
  • "They said I couldn't win a National Championship."
  • "They said I couldn't play in the [National Football] League."

At the end of the ad, Tebow smiles at the camera and says, "Thanks."

Because of course, he's done all of those things. And he's surprised a lot of people with his success.

Tebow also gets ridiculed for his limitations:  he can't pass well, his statistics are awful, etc. etc.

Yet when he leads the team, they win games. Lots of games.

Tebow is the first to give credit to his teammates. He points to the same terrible numbers, the same limitations pointed out by his critics. He shrugs and says, obviously, it was the whole team that won. Not just him.

Forget what "they" say.

Just lead your team the best way you know how. And you'll win.


Honoring Dr. King

Many of you are reading this blog on your day off, enjoying the Martin Luther King holiday.

Many relish the opportunity to relax on a Monday, already missing the easy Christmas-to-New-Year's schedule when the phones go quiet and fewer meetings interrupt our workday. But let's not forget why we celebrate this day, and what it means for your team.

Dr. Martin Luther King, a man of incredible vision and courage, stood - and marched - for equal rights and justice, demanding that our nation fulfill its promise of opportunity for all and reward for merit rather than heritage. He made the ultimate sacrifice for something that many of us today take as a given.

Because of his vision and courage, we are far more apt today to reward, promote, and recognize our fellow team members based on their contribution rather than on our own prejudices. That makes our teams stronger, our companies stronger, our communities, our world.

It's hard to imagine today that the conditions we take for granted were but a far-off dream in his day, as he said in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech: "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

It bears remembering.

Listen to Dr. King's speech here.



Champions and Winners

This evening, the Louisiana State University Bengal Tigers will face the University of Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship Football Game.

Full disclosure:  I attended one of these two fine institutions and am rooting for my alma mater to win.

That aside, there interesting points to be made about this game and these teams:

Both of these teams have been here before.
And won.
And lost.
Each team believes they will win.
Success breeds success.

Both of these teams are lauded for their defense.
Pundits say, defense wins championships.
For once, the pundits are right.
Defense is a team game.

These teams have played each other before. Recently, in fact.
In that contest, the two teams played to a 6-6 tie in regulation.
The game was finally won in a hard-fought overtime.
It could have gone either way.
Both are willing to risk it all again.

One of these two teams will be crowned champion.
But both will be considered winners.

Because they believe they are winners.

What does your team believe?

What ethic do you create amongst your team?


Five "keepers" for team building in 2012

Here are five "keepers" that will help you build a better team in 2012:

  • Keep it about the people.

No matter what else you do, remember that your team consists of human beings with lives, loves, passions, wants, and basically a million things going on inside their brains. Notice what motivates them and makes them happy outside of work - and show that you notice. The more you make their job an integral part of what makes them happy, the more they'll want to contribute to the team's success.

  • Keep the communications open.

Be transparent. Secrets kill teams, openness bonds them. If your team feels they can't tell you when things go wrong, you won't know until it's too late. If your team feels you trust them, they'll trust you, and vice versa.

  • Keep your eyes on the prize.

Set goals and focus your team's work on those goals. People like being part of something larger. Don't overload your team with extraneous work that distracts from the team goals. Make sure that everyone's role is tied to the team's success - and that everyone knows it. If they don't understand how, show them.

  • Keep resources focused on needs.

Everyone understands that times are tight, but they'll understand it better if frugality is exercised at all levels of the organization. If team members see execs living fat while they have to sacrifice, the ol' team spirit will disappear in a hurry. Likewise, don't spend money unnecessarily or unwisely on them just to "show" that you're fair. For instance, while they will want and appreciate a team-building outing every so often, they won't want it to be so expensive that you can't afford the tools they need to do their job.

  • Keep it fun.

If it's fun to come to work, people will start earlier and stay later - and be more productive while they're there. One team I was on had daily "nerf basketball" games after lunch in the office. It got us laughing, got our juices flowing and got us working together at a time when most others were fighting the after-lunch carbo-loading fatigue.



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