The strength of teams

I am currently working with a team that is in a tough position; an epic plague has all but hit this team! You name the injury, illness, or bizarre twist of fate and odds are it applies to this team. Players are being asked to play different positions, coaches are altering their tactics, and role players who never anticipated getting playing time are suddenly being called on in key moments.

While I was speaking with one young player about how quickly her role had shifted from, “the end of the bench” to “be ready,” she shared a great story with me. She said she was speaking with her former club coach on the phone and she told him about the situation they were in. His reply was, “Wait, how many players are out? Oh s***! You might actually play in a game as a freshman on a DI team in one of the top conferences in the country!” For the record Coach, she is playing and doing great!

The roster is so thin that I dreamt the other night that they needed me to play! Not my 18-year-old self, but my current 44-year-old self - now that’s a tragic situation :)

As a team, we’ve talked a lot about the good that could come from this and how adversity can be a gift to help prepare a team for future success. But the ability of any team to accept this challenge as a gift is directly connected to their willingness to invest in and maintain their interpersonal relationships.

The following excerpt from EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey is a great example of the power of relationships on teams:

“One of the largest, strongest horses in the world is the Belgian draft horse. Competitions are held to see which horse can pull the most and one Belgian can pull 8,000 pounds. The weird thing is if you put two Belgian horses in the harness who are strangers to each other, together they can pull 20,000 – 24,000 pounds. Two can pull not twice as much as one but three times as much as one. This example represents the power of synergy. However, if the two horses are raised and trained together they learn to pull and think as one. The trained, and therefore unified, pair can pull 30,000 – 32,000 pounds, almost four times as much as a single horse.”

Two people moving toward a common goal are always more powerful than one person doing it alone. However, two people moving in the same direction who are connected to each other, who understand each other, who value each other’s strengths and weaknesses, who read non-verbal cues, and genuinely care for each other, well that is where the magic happens!

We often hear that there is strength in numbers, but that increases exponentially when you have taken the time to intentionally connect with those around you. A team of 6 or 7 well-connected people has far more power than a team of 15 people who have not taken the time to invest in each other.

Whether it is an athletic team, a working group, a non-profit organization, or a Fortune 500 corporation, relationships matter.

The quality of those relationships is ultimately the strength of your team.