Prepping for the Big Dance: We Supersedes Me
March Madness: bracket picks, buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories and 60-plus men’s and women’s collegiate basketball teams battling it out for national championship titles.
“The Big Dance” is here and it’s a good time to highlight that invitations to the tournament aren’t addressed to star athletes – the selection committee recognizes team accomplishments with the honor of competing in this annual event. And every year, while following the three weeks of action, I’m reminded that team players make the difference on, and off, the courts.
Even if you’re the titled leader of an organization, Tammy Erickson, Harvard Business Review contributor and McKinsey Award-winning author, says it’s important for all team members to feel like they are an integral part of the process. She cites research that says groups make better decisions than individuals, and she lays out these steps for leaders:
1.) Ask great questions.
Challenge the organization to meet goals that are intriguing, complex and important. Don’t narrow the focus to the mundane or over-specify the way teams should approach their challenge.
2.) Build relationships and trust deep in the organization.
Be careful not to exclude input, increase competition among internal teams, or reduce investments in learning. Increase potential for success by all through relationship building and encouraging knowledge exchange.
3.) Challenge the status quo.
Ensure your team has regular ongoing exposure to opportunities that spark creativity. Bring in new people and new ideas – and take them seriously.
Still, there are those who live by the motto: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” However, if want your professional and personal success to be enduring, I would suggest taking a team approach. Consider this African Proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It is a great way of saying that lasting value is borne from collaborative efforts that draw on the strengths of each member of your department, committee, family, team, etc.
Enjoy the NCAA tournament. While you watch, decide for yourself whether it’s individual prowess or five players on the floor functioning as a unit that takes teams into the late rounds. Sure there will be standout players. But it was John Wooden, arguably one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time, who said, “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."
Similarly, strong leaders in business and life succeed when they’re part of a great team. Take time to go over the game plan with your team, identify their strengths, help them improve and determine how they can contribute to overall success.