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Zebras and Wildebeests

Zebra and wildebeest migration Masai Mara, Sep...Image via Wikipedia

Ah, to be on a dream team! It's what we all dream about, huh? A bunch of people each skilled in his or her own specialty areas, pulling together, accomplishing way more than the added total of each working separately. Companies talk teams all the time, but very few provide the environment for teams to survive, much less thrive. They reward individual performance and undermine the very concept of unity and shared vision.

Unity of purpose is the very backbone of a high performing team. We sometimes think of unity as "sameness." It's actually just the opposite; it's about diversity. And that's where the strength...the backbone...comes in. Ralph W. Sockman, in "The Treasure Chest," said, "There are  parts of a ship, which, taken by themselves, would sink. The engine would sink. The propeller would sink. But when the parts of a ship are built together, they float."

What about you and your team?

  • Do you value and leverage the strengths of your individual team members? Or do you resent that not everyone is as creative? Or as detail oriented?
  • Do members of your team set aside their own interests for the good of the whole? Or are you a group of individual contributors, each vying for the recognition and visibility that belongs to the team?
  • Do you all find joy in each other's successes? Or do you forget sometimes that nobody can achieve the team goal unless everyone achieves the team goal?

While dream teams have all of the talent they need to accomplish a task, not any one member has all of the talent. High performing teams learn how to take advantage of each person's stengths and avoid unreasonable exposure to each person's weaknesses. Members of a dream team talk openly about their strengths and weaknesses. A weakness is not considered bad. The team just adjusts to it and moves on.

In Kenya, both zebras and wildebeests migrate from Masai Mara to Serengeti. Now here's the interesting part. The two massive herds travel together because the zebras have good eyesight, but a poor sense of smell. The wildebeests have bad eyesight, but a good sense of smell. By traveling together, both herds are less vulnerable to predators. Like high performing teams, they're more likely to survive AND thrive.

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