Last Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos. This outcome was NOT expected. The broncos have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Payton Manning, who broke two records this season. He threw 55 touchdowns, beating Tom Brady’s 50, and threw for 5,477 yards, beating Drew Brees by one yard! Even with a quarterback with these record, the Broncos were defeated. This is a perfect example of the phrase “Individuals win awards, teams win championships.” The Seahawks came together and played as a team to beat the much favoured Denver Broncos.
So what makes a good team? First you need to have people who are good team players, then after you have your players, you need to develop and maintain good team chemistry. John Maxwell wrote a book called The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player. This book has amazing information about how to personally become a better team player. I am going to highlight five of the 17 essential qualities that make a team player.
1. Adaptable: “Teamwork and personal rigidity just don’t mix. If you want to work well with others and be a good team player, you have to be willing to adapt yourself to your team”. If you aren’t willing to work with your team and bend a little, you will never be a great team player. To be adaptable you need to be teachable, willing to learn a new way to do things. They are emotionally secure and do not see every ounce of change as a personal threat to the way they do things. Team players are creative and they are service minded, focused on whats best for others or whats best for the team.
2. Committed: “Human emotions go up and down all the time, but commitment has to be rock solid. If you want a solid team…you must have team players who are solidly committed to the team”. Commitment is usually discovered when it is tested, as Vince Lombardi said “the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” Your commitment doesn’t depend on your abilities in some area, there are people who had all the natural ability in the world but weren’t committed and therefore didn’t succeed. Commitment is a choice, when you chose to be committed you give yourself, and your team, the opportunity for success. If commitments are based on values, it is more likely to last. Commitments made in the moment are almost always doomed to failure.
3. Enthusiastic: “There is no substitute for enthusiasm. When the members of a team are enthusiastic, the whole team becomes highly energized.” To be an enthusiastic team player you have to take responsibility for your own enthusiasm, choose to be enthusiastic! Sometimes this involves acting your way into feeling, if you wait to feel enthusiastic it may never come, so act like first. To help you act and speak enthusiastically you need to believe in what you are doing, believe it is important and focus on the positive aspects. Finally, to become more enthusiastic spend time with other people who are enthusiastic.
4. Selfless: “No team succeeds unless its players put others on the team ahead of themselves. Being selfless isn’t easy, but it is necessary”. Generosity is one of the keys to being selfless. Being generous helps unite the team, and advance the team. Avoiding internal politics by worrying about the good of the team instead of personal benefit is also essential to being a selfless team player. Displaying loyalty to the team, not to yourself and valuing interdependence will lead to selflessness as well.
5. Tenacious:”Even people who lack talent and fail to cultivate some of the other vital qualities of a team player have a change to contribute to the team and help it succeed if they possess a tenacious spirit. Being tenacious means giving all that you have, but not more. If you think tenacity is giving all you have and more, you will be unmotivated because the goal is unattainable. Giving all you have will set your team and yourself up for success. To have tenacity is to work with determination and not wait for luck or fate to intervene. You need to quit when the job is done, not when you are tired. You show your real tenacity when you go beyond where you think you can in order to finish the task at hand.
Developing team players is not the end of the process of developing an unbeatable team. Once you have a group of team players, everything is not guaranteed to go smoothly, we are people after all and people aren’t perfect. Two things that a team must commit itself to are good relationships, and unity through conflict resolution. These two commitments will lead to good team chemistry which allows success.
- Build Depth: Building deep relationships takes time. Spending quality time with teammates will build deep bonds that will last through struggles and missed goals. If relationships are not deep, the team has the potential to fall apart as nothing is holding the members of the team together. You have to care about the people you are building deep relationships with, and show them that you love and care about them.
- Use a Team Approach: Working towards a common goal with 20 people or even 10 is a lot more fun and feels easier than with just two. Working together is key. People will often work harder for the other people on their team than the will for themselves. When this happens, results will appear faster and inspire people to believe in themselves and join in with the work.
- Think Long Term: Every team will encounter conflict at some point; people will argue because they don’t see eye to eye on something, someone will feel hurt by an innocent comment someone else made, people will argue about the best way to achieve a goal. What is important to maintaining good relationships is learning to make the relationship more important than your feelings. You have to be willing to have the hard conversations and communicate with other team members when you have been hurt. Being honest can break through barriers and bring teams closer together, where staying quite and harbouring resentment towards others will only break down relationships and eventually the team.
The second aspect of creating great team chemistry is unity through conflict resolution. In Orrin Woodward‘s book, Resolved Primer, he discusses five steps for conflict resolution. If applied correctly, these steps can help teams to work through conflict and be stronger on the other side. These steps can be applied when needing to have a conversation with a teammate about a conflict that has arisen in your relationship.
- Affirm the relationship: The conflict between team members is not the purpose of the conversation, the relationship between team members and the team is the purpose for the conversation. This needs to be established right away. By establishing this first, you affirm in the other person’s mind that your relationship matters and you remind yourself what the true purpose of the conversation is.
- Seek first to understand: The key here is to listen to your teammate and try to understand the conflict from their perspective. It is especially important at this point to not take what the other person says personally and react emotionally. You are there to listen and let them share their feelings with total freedom.
- Seek to be understood: Now you can respectfully share your perspective on the issue. Remember that you are not here to prove who is right or wrong, you are here to resolve this conflict and move forward with a deeper, stronger relationship which leads to stronger team chemistry.
- Own responsibility by apologizing: Here, you want to own as much of the conflict as you can while still being truthful about the situation. This step can be difficult because people are reluctant to admit their imperfections to others. However, a sincere apology will create more good than denial and justifications ever can.
- Seek agreement: Now the goal is to unite and strengthen the relationship and therefore the team. Flushing issues out of a relationship leaves only stronger bonds of love, trust, and unity. In a team, unity creates harmony and success which is every team’s ultimate goal.
By becoming a better team player individually by applying the information from The 17 Essential Qualities of A Team Player you will increase your value in the team. But for a team to increase it’s value overall, it needs to develop good chemistry through good relationships and unity. When a team can focus on mastering these, that is when they win championships.