One of my most admired leaders, George Russell, always used to say, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” I have to admit I didn’t fully appreciate the wisdom of his words early in my career. But, in time I realized he was right. When you adopt George’s philosophy, you become a true team player and everyone benefits.
Teamwork is more and more the name of the game in the workplace these days. In the past, many people learned to perform a single skill and then continued it for many years. These days, however, creativity and innovation are more often what is needed in the workplace—requiring greater collaboration, flexibility, and interpersonal skills from workers.
Do you have what it takes to be a great team player in today’s economy? Do the young adults in your life?
My favorite spectator sport is basketball. To me, it’s the consummate team sport where character is revealed before our very eyes.
Some players clearly focus on individual scoring (often to the detriment of the team when they go overboard), and enjoy being in the limelight. Still others are known for their passing and defense and rarely receive the same fan attention. Yet, isn’t it interesting that, it’s the team with the best defense and passing that usually wins the championship? I believe there’s a message to be learned in this.
When I coached basketball, I gave special praise for assists, tenacious defense, and our unsung heroes. One young lady on our team, Jazi, as the perfect example. She may have scored only two points a game, but we were never the same without her! She was our best passer and shut down the finest guards with her incredible defense. Our victories against our toughest opponents often came from her defense rather than from our leading scorer. She was the consummate team player and unsung hero. I wouldn’t have traded her for the world.
In the NBA, the player that most comes to my mind is John Stockton, a retired point guard from the Utah Jazz. He’s the league’s all-time assist leader, which is a true sign of an unselfish team player. During his career, he handed out an incredible 15,806 assists to his teammates— truly an extraordinary accomplishment. It is rare in sports to see records that stand out like this, and it’s a testimony to John’s skill, unselfishness, and endurance.
Throughout your life, you’ll be in countless team situations, especially on the job. When these opportunities arise, focus on the team rather than on your individual contributions. Encourage them, praise them, mentor them, enjoy them, and show your gratitude toward them. Bring everyone up and your team will achieve great things. Your leadership will be liked, respected, and admired by others.
Can you see the difference on a team when players focus on mutual support and team effort, as opposed to seeking personal recognition? Please share your comments and stories with us; we’re always glad to hear from our readers!