What's Wrong with MY TEAM?

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"I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion."

Mia Hamm

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CLICK ON IMAGE: to view classic "discussion" between Gary & Julius on leadership and teamwork in Remember the Titans.


We have all been there.....stuck on a team where teammates refuse to give, praise, improve, commit and love the team. A "team of individuals" is really the better description of the "team". At first, you try to do something about it. You attempt to correct your teammates; you yell at them, condemn them, complain to the coach, to other teammates.....to anybody that will listen! It makes you so ANGRY! You don't have the power to kick them off, but you wish you could. Eventually, you are left with the alternative of learning to deal with it. You try to convince yourself that it's not that bad, players and coaches ignoring each other, each promoting themselves selfishly but appearing to get along (at least on the surface) is just the way it is. But it still bothers you, it HURTS. Why don't I get noticed? Why don't we notice each other? For even when somebody does something really good, nobody really genuinely celebrates them, their accomplishment or the TEAM. We ALL know in our guts that this is NOT how it's supposed to be. 
(*In 2014 65% of Americans surveyed said they got NO recognition for good work. This, in fact, some argue is the biggest reason why over 2.3 million Americans quit their jobs-in 2014 alone.)


In 2008, a book title Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization came out. The authors contended that the majority of teams were not acting like real teams, far from it, in fact. Over 75% of them were dysfunctional. What was worse was that most of the leaders were completely unaware of this phenomenon AND had no clue even how to solve their crisis of individual selfishness. In the meantime, their employees continued to struggle and struggle, locked in the agony that things would never, could never get better. Below is a short summary of the 5 "teams" the authors of Tribal Leadership claim exist in the workplace:


Stages of Tribal Development

Five Stages of Tribal Development: (From Tribal Leadership by Logan, King & Fisher)

Stage 1- shared belief that “Life Sucks!” This stage is characterized by despair, hopelessness and hostility to others. All members are on survival mode, at the expense of others, including teammates. Members operate by their own rules. Life has given them a bad deal, so it’s OK to do whatever it takes to survive. Put-downs, verbal abuse and disdain for anything good is the language used most often by people on this “team”. (2% of all workplace teams.)

Stage 2- shared belief that “My Life Sucks!” This stage is characterized by apathy.Members are victims of a cruel world. Their attitude is one of somebody who claims they’ve seen it all before, so why try anything new or innovative because the results will just be the same again---FAILURE. This passive/aggressive attitude includes constant talk/complaining among themselves & how to get out of work, while telling people in charge they are on board. There is little to no innovation, urgency or holding teammates accountable. Instead, members do the minimum, griping, complaining and not caring. Why should they, nothing gets better anyway. (25% of all workplace teams.)

Stage 3- shared belief that “I’m Great (& You’re NOT)!” This stage is characterized by selfishness. Members hoard knowledge, expertise and talent to get the upper hand so they can WIN for themselves. Gossip about the team is constant. Most members are continually disappointed that others don’t have THEIR ambition or skill. The addictive HIGH is for personal gain, fame, popularity, beating others and being the smartest and most successful; talking mostly about themselves.They resist sharing information/expertise except when is necessary. Put-downs, gossip, sarcasm all to make themselves look better is the language of the team.This team is really a team of “lone warriors” wanting to win solely for personal reasons/advantage. (49% of all workplace teams.)

Stage 4- shared belief that “We’re Great (& They’re NOT)!” This stage is characterized by a common purpose: WE! Team members are sincerely excited working with other members of the team-making each other better and the TEAM better. Eye contact is common when team members interact. If two members fight a 3rd member will often come in and help OR the fight will be resolved by the original two who disagreed. This team is focused on a common purpose, a common task, a common mission. Building up teammates, praising teammates and helping teammates are common. Sincere intervention when teammates are doing the wrong thing hurting themselves and the team is also common. Everybody knows 
there are other teams trying to beat us… which is fine because the bigger the foe-the more powerful the tribe! (22% of all workplace teams.)

Stage 5- shared belief that “Life is Great!” This stage is characterized by infinite potential. Team members literally BELIEVE that this team is going to make history. The competition is NOT with other teams but with themselves and what is possible. Behavior empowering others and the team is a constant theme. Results are discussed in a historic/legendary status so far above all typical industrial norms: the world is watching US! Building up teammates, praising teammates and helping teammates are common and sincere intervention when teammates are doing the wrong thing hurting themselves and the team is just as in Stage 4. Winning and beating other teams is just a byproduct of the goal of coming together and being the best team possible. (2% of all workplace teams.)

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CLICK ON IMAGE: to view Gary and Julius's key moment in real leadership and TEAM building in Remember the Titans.


In today's world of performance, performance, performance, many leaders are searching for the best talent, the best techniques, the best plays that will make the difference. Yet, if we really want our TEAM to perform, maybe finding ways to help teammates connect, care and actually want to give for the benefit of the team is actually the BEST way to help improve performance.

Regardless, SportsLeader urges all of us to make an effort EVERY DAY to build our teams whether we are the so-called leader or just one of the many ordinary team members. For it is ALL our responsibility to make OUR team SPECIAL, literally a place everybody can call home.

More Than A Coach...SportsLeader!