Leadership: Teamwork Multiplies Your Talent

Leadership: Teamwork Multiplies Your Talent Part I,Leadership, John C Maxwell, Christian Living In the Academy Award-winning movie Rocky, boxer Rocky Balboa describes his relationship with his girlfriend, Adrian: €œI`ve got gaps. She`s got gaps. But together we`ve got no gaps. What a wonderful description of teamwork! It doesn`t matter how talented you may be€”you have gaps. There are things you don`t do well. What`s the best way to handle your weaknesses? Partner with others who have strengths in those areas. If you want to do something really big, then do it as part of a team.

Extraordinary Teamwork

In the previous chapter, I mentioned that I recently toured the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. I got that opportunity when my friend, Tom Mullins, invited me to make the trip along with him and a few others. It started when we landed aboard the aircraft, which was already at sea. For twenty-four hours, we received the VIP treatment, touring every part of that magnificent ship. The entire experience was fantastic, but the highlight for me was sitting with Rear Admiral Raymond Spicer, commander of the Enterprise`s carrier strike group, and watching F/A-18 Hornet jets taking off and landing at night. What an incredible sight!

There was beauty in the way the jets shot off the deck and others landed, coming to a halt in a mere two seconds. But what struck me even more was the number of people who seemed to be involved in the process and the teamwork that was required. When I asked Admiral Spicer about it, he put me in contact with Lt. Commander Ryan Smith, the V2 Division Officer, who explained the process to me. He said,

The pilot is seated at the controls of an F/A-18 Hornet as the jet is accelerated from 0 to nearly 160 mph in the span of less than three seconds. As the aircraft climbs away from the carrier, she raises the landing gear and is suddenly alone in the black of night. There are few examples of solitary combat in today`s era of modem, networked warfare, but an aviator seated in the cockpit of one of today`s Navy fighters still seems like an example in which the accomplishment of a particular objective is entirely dependent on the talent, skill, and effort of one particular, highly trained individual. However, the singular act of catapulting a jet off of the end of one of these carriers is the result of the complex orchestration of scores of individuals, each with a mastery of his or her own specific task. It is the efforts and coordination of these individuals, most of whom are just barely high school graduates, which serve as a truly inspiring example of teamwork.

He then went on to explain the process. Hours before that jet taxis to the catapult for launching, it is being inspected by a team of mechanics and technicians from the Aircraft Squadron. While the pilot is receiving a briefing on the mission, including weather, target information, radio procedures, and navigational information (all of which are produced by teams of sailors), the aircraft is going through an equally rigorous period of preparation. The preflight routine ends only when the pilot has reviewed the aircraft`s maintenance records and inspected the aircraft for flight.

Exactly thirty minutes prior to the aircraft`s launch time, a specific sequence of steps begins that is always followed with precision. The aircraft carrier`s air boss calls for engine starts, a test to make certain that the jets are in proper working order, while the pilot runs through his pre-taxi checks. The aircraft`s plane captain is listening to the engines €“and watching the movement of each control surface as the pilot does his checks. Once it is determined that everything is okay, the aircraft is then topped off with fuel by a crew from the carrier`s Fuels Division.

Meanwhile, the aircraft handling officer, seated in flight deck control and using a tabletop model of the carrier`s flight deck with scale models of the individual aircraft to keep track of everything, reviews the launch sequence plan with the deck caller. The aircraft handling officer radios the deck caller, telling him which aircraft are reported to be €œup and ready to taxi.

The deck caller leads three separate teams of plane directors and other sailors from the carrier`s Flight Deck Division, and each team is responsible for a different area of the flight deck. These teams ensure that each aircraft to be launched is safely unchained, directed around other parked aircraft (often with only inches of clearance), and put in line to be launched€”sometimes as the deck of the carrier is pitching and rolling. When the deck caller gets the word from the aircraft handling officer, he leads the plane directors to distribute the aircraft among the four catapults facilitating the fastest possible departure of all the aircraft from the flight deck. As the time of the launch approaches, the directors bring each aircraft to the throat of a catapult, and the jet blast deflector is raised once an aircraft has taxied over it.

On deck, final maintenance checkers walk alongside the aircraft and inspect each panel and component as crew members from the Catapult and Arresting Gear Division hook the aircraft up to the catapult mechanism and ready it for launch. Below deck, other teams are using hydraulics and other equipment to control steam from the nuclear reactor that will be used to power the catapult.

At this time, ordnance personnel arm the aircraft`s weapons

The catapult officer then confirms the weight of the aircraft with the pilot. He also note of the wind over the deck and ambient conditions. He performs calculations to determine the precise amount of energy needed to achieve flight.

Even with all of this preparation, no jet would be able to take off if the ship weren`t in the proper position. The ship`s navigational team, which makes calculations to determine the required speed and heading, has relayed information to the bridge, and by now the ship has completed its turn and has accelerated to proper speed on its directed course.

The aircraft is almost ready for launch. The catapult officer signals to the operators, and the aircraft is hydraulically tensioned into the catapult. The pilot applies full power to the aircraft`s engines and checks to be sure the aircraft is functioning. If the pilot determines that the aircraft is ready for flight, he signals the catapult officer by saluting him. If the catapult officer also receives a thumbs-up from the squadron final checker, he will then give the fire signal to a catapult operator who depresses the fire button and sends the aircraft on its way.

What`s amazing is that three more aircraft can be launched right behind it in less than a minute, each having gone through that same procedure. And in just a matter of minutes, that same flight deck can be prepared to receive landing aircraft, one corning on final approach just as the previous one is taxied out of the landing area.

Teamwork Truth

I can think of few things that require such a high degree of precision teamwork with so many different groups of people as the launching of a jet from an aircraft carrier. It`s easy to see that teamwork is essential for the task. However, a task doesn`t have to be complex to need teamwork. In 2001 when I wrote The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, the first law I included was the Law of Significance, which says, €œOne is too small a number to achieve greatness. If you want to do anything of value, teamwork is required.

Teamwork not only allows a person to do what he couldn`t otherwise do; it also has a compounding effect on all he possesses€”including talent. If you believe one person is a work of God (which I do), then a group of talented people committed to working together is a work of art. Whatever your vision or desire, teamwork makes the dream work.

Working together with other people toward a common goal is one of the most rewarding experiences of life. I`ve led or been part of many different kinds of teams€”sports teams, work teams, business teams, ministry teams, communication teams, choirs, bands, committees, boards, you name it. I`ve observed teams of nearly every type in my travels around the world. And talking to leaders, developing teams, counseling with coaches, and teaching and writing on teamwork have influenced my thinking when it comes to teams. What I`ve learned I want to share with you:

1. Teamwork Divides the Effort and Multiplies the Effect

Would you like to get better results from less work? I think everyone would. That`s what teamwork provides. In his book Jesus on Leadership, C. Gene Wilkes describes why teamwork is superior to individual effort:

· Teams involve more people, thus affording more resources, ideas, and energy than an individual possesses.
· Teams maximize a leader`s potential and minimize her weaknesses. Strengths and weaknesses are more exposed in individuals.
· Teams provide multiple perspectives on how to meet a need or reach a goal, thus devising several alternatives for each situation. Individual insight is seldom as broad and deep as a group`s when it takes on a problem.
· Teams share the credit for victories and the blame for losses. This fosters genuine humility and authentic community. Individuals take credit and blame alone. This fosters pride and sometimes a sense of failure.
· Teams keep leaders accountable for the goal. Individuals connected to no one can change the goal without accountability.
· Teams can simply do more than an individual.

It`s common sense that people working together can do more than an individual working alone. So why are some people reluctant to engage in teamwork? It can be difficult in the beginning. Teams don`t usually come together and develop on their own. They require leadership and cooperation. While that may be more work on the front end, the dividends it pays on the back end are tremendous and well worth the effort.

2. Talent Wins Games, but Teamwork Wins Championships

A sign in the New England Patriots` locker room states, €œIndividuals play the game, but teams win championships. Obviously the Patriot players understand this. Over a four-year period, they won the Super Bowl three times.

Teams that repeatedly win championships are models of teamwork. For more than two decades, the Boston Celtics dominated the NBA. Their team has won more championships than any other in NBA history, and at one point during the fifties and sixties, the Celtics won eight championships in a row. During their run, the Celtics never had a player lead the league in scoring. Red Auerbach, who coached the Celtics and then later moved to their front office, always emphasized teamwork. He asserted, €œOne person seeking glory doesn`t accomplish much; everything we`ve done has been the result of people working together to meet our common goals.

It`s easy to see the fruit of teamwork in sports. But it is at least as important in business. Harold S. Geneen, who was director, president, and CEO of ITT for twenty years, observed, €œThe essence of leadership is the ability to inspire others to work together as a team€”to stretch for a common objective. If you want to perform at the highest possible level, you need to be part of a team.

3. Teamwork Is Not About You

The Harvard Business School recognizes a team as a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Getting those people to work together is sometimes a challenge. It requires good leadership. And the more talented the team members, the better the leadership that is needed. The true measure of team leadership is not getting people to work. Neither is it getting people to work hard. The true measure of a leader is getting people to work hard together!

I`ve studied exceptional team leaders and coaches. Here are what just a few say about getting people to work together:

PAUL €œBEAR BRYANT, legendary Alabama football coach: €œIn order to have a winner, the team must have a feeling of unity. Every player must put the team first ahead of personal glory.

BUD WlLKINSON, author of The Book of Football Wisdom: €œIf a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team.

Lou HOLTZ, coach of college football national championship teams: €œThe freedom to do your own thing ends when you have obligations and responsibilities. If you want to fail yourself€”you can€”but you cannot do your own thing if you have responsibilities to team members.

MICHAEL JORDAN, most talented basketball player of all time and six-time world champion: €œThere are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren`t willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.

All great teams are the result of their players making decisions based on what`s best for the rest. That`s true in sports, business, the military, and volunteer organizations. And it`s true at every level, from the part-time support person to the coach or CEO. The best leaders also put their team first. C. Gene Wilkes observes,

Team leaders genuinely believe that they do not have all the answers€” so they do not insist on providing them. They believe they do not need to make all key decisions€”so they do not do so. They believe they cannot succeed without the combined contributions of all the other members of the team to a common end€”so they avoid any action that might constrain inputs or intimidate anyone on the team. Ego is not their predominant concern.

Highly talented teams possess players with strong egos. One secret of successful teamwork is converting individual ego into team confidence, individual sacrifice, and synergy. Pat Riley, NBA champion coach, says, €œTeamwork requires that everyone`s efforts flow in a single direction. Feelings of significance happen when a team`s energy takes on a life of its own.

4. Great Teams Create Community

All effective teams create an environment where relationships grow and teammates become connected to one another. To use a term that is currently popular, they create a sense of community. That environment of community is based on trust. Little can be accomplished without it.

On good teams, trust is a nonnegotiable. On winning teams, players extend trust to one another. Initially that is a risk because their trust can be violated and they can be hurt. At the same time that they are giving trust freely, they conduct themselves in such a way to earn trust from others. They hold themselves to a high standard. When everyone gives freely and bonds of trust develop and are tested over time, players begin to have faith in one another. They believe that the person next to them will act with consistency, keep commitments, maintain confidences, and support others. The stronger the sense of community becomes, the greater their potential to work together.

Developing a sense of community in a team does not mean there is no conflict. All teams experience disagreements. All relationships have tension. But you can work them out. My friend Bill Hybels, who leads a congregation of more than twenty thousand people, acknowledges this:

The popular concept of unity is a fantasy land where disagreements never surface and contrary opinions are never stated with force. Instead of unity, we use the word community. We say, €œLet`s not pretend we never disagree. We`re dealing with the lives of 16,000 people [at the time]. The stakes are high. Let`s not have people hiding their concerns to protect a false notion of unity. Let`s face the disagreement and deal with it in a good way.

The mark of community€¦ is not the absence of conflict. It`s the presence of a reconciling spirit. I can have a rough-and-tumble leadership meeting with someone, but because we`re committed to the community, we can still leave, slapping each other on the back, saying, €œI`m glad we`re still on the same team. We know no one`s bailing out just because of a conflicting position.

When a team shares a strong sense of community, team members can resolve conflicts without dissolving relationships.

5. Adding Value to Others Adds Value to You

€œMy husband and I have a very happy marriage, a woman bragged. €œThere`s nothing I wouldn`t do for him, and there`s nothing he wouldn`t do for me. And that`s the way we go through life€”doing nothing for each other! That kind of attitude is a certain road to disaster for any team€”including a married couple.

Too often people join a team for their personal benefit. They want a supporting cast so that they can be the star. But that attitude hurts the team. When even the most talented person has a mind to serve, special things can happen. Former NBA great Magic Johnson paraphrased John E Kennedy when he stated, €œAsk not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates. That wasn`t just talk for Johnson. Over the course of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he started in every position during championship games to help his team.

U.S. president Woodrow Wilson asserted, €œYou are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and to impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. People who take advantage of others inevitably fail in business and relationships. If you desire to succeed, then live by these four simple words: add value to others. That philosophy will take you far.


All talented people have a choice to make: do their own thing and get all the credit, or do the team thing and share it. My observation is that not only do talented people accomplish more when working with others, but they are also more fulfilled than those who go it alone. My hope is that you choose teamwork over solo efforts. If that is your desire, then do the following:

1. Buy into the Law of Significance

Earlier in this chapter I mentioned the Law of Significance from 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: €œOne is too small a number to achieve greatness. In 2002, when I was teaching on the laws, I challenged members of the audience of ten thousand: €œName one person in the history of mankind who alone, without the help of anyone, made a significant impact on civilization.

A voice from the crowd yelled, €œCharles Lindbergh€”he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a plane by himself.

The crowd cheered.

€œThat`s true, I responded, and the crowd cheered louder, thinking I had been stumped. €œBut did you know, I continued, €œthat Ryan Aeronautical Engineering designed and built the plane? And did you know that ten millionaires financed the trip? The crowd exploded. €œAre more suggestions? I asked.

I want to give you the same challenge. Think of any significant accomplishment that appears to be a solo act. Then do some research and you will find that others worked with the individuals or supported them so that they could do what they did. No one does anything significant on his own. One is too small a number to achieve greatness. If you buy into that idea, then you will embrace the concept of teamwork. And that will be the foundation upon which you multiply your talent and take it to the highest level. No one can become a talent-plus person without it.

2. Include a Team in Your Dream

Journalist and radio host Rex Murphy asserts, €œThe successful attainment of a dream is a cart and horse affair. Without a team of horses, a cart full of dreams can go nowhere. Teamwork gives you the best opportunity to turn your vision into reality. The greater the vision, the more need there is for a good team. But being willing to engage in teamwork is not the same as actively pursuing a team and becoming part of it. To succeed, you need to get on a team and find your best place in it. That may be as its leader, or it may not. Rudy Giuliani says,

In reality, a leader must understand that success is best achieved through teamwork. From the moment you are put into a leadership position you must demonstrate ultimate humility. A leader must know his weaknesses in order to counterbalance them with the strengths of the team. When I became the Mayor of New York, I had both strengths and weaknesses. For instance, I did not have very much experience in economics. I found members for my team that had experience and great talent in the field of economics. When every member of the team is operating in his or her strengths, your organization will flourish. When crisis comes you will have the people in place to manage every situation with excellence.

If you`re not certain about where you ultimately belong on a team, don`t let that stop you from engaging in teamwork. Find others who are like-minded in their attitudes and passion, and join them.

3. Develop Your Team

If you are a leader on your team, then you must make it your goal to develop your teammates or players. That process begins with having the right people on the team. It`s said that people are known by the company they keep. But it can also be said that a company is known by the people it keeps. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, observed, €œIf you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings€”and put compensation as a carrier behind it€”you almost don`t have to manage them. That`s why Patrick Emington said, €œIt is the greatest folly to talk of motivating anybody. The real key is to help others to unlock and direct their deepest motivators.

The process continues with your doing whatever you can to help people grow and reach their potential. You must do your best to see the abilities of others and help them recognize and develop those abilities. That`s what all good leaders do. They don`t just become talent-plus people. They help others to become talent-plus people.

4. Give the Credit for Success to the Team

The final step to becoming a talent-plus person in the area of teamwork is to give as much of the credit as you can to the people on the team. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins points out that the leaders of the best organizations, what he calls €œlevel-5 leaders, are characterized by humility and a tendency to avoid the spotlight. Does that mean those leaders aren`t talented? Of course not. Does it mean they have no egos? No. It means they recognize that everyone on the team is important, and they understand that people do better work and do it with greater effort when they are recognized for their contribution.

If you consider what top leaders and former CEOs say about this, you`ll recognize a pattern:

RAY GlLMARTIN OF MERCK: €œIf I were to put someone on the front cover of Business Week or Fortune, it would be €¦ the person who heads up our research organization, not me. Or I would put a team of people on the cover.

LOU GERSTNER OF IBM: €œI haven`t done this [created the company`s turnaround]. It`s been 280,000 people who have done it. We took a change in focus, a change in preoccupation, and a great talented group of people €¦ and changed the company.

DAN TULLY OF MERRILL LYNCH: €œIt`s amazing what you can do when you don`t seek all the credit. I find nothing is really one person`s idea.

WALTER SHIPLEY OF CITIBANK: €œWe have 68,000 employees. With a company this size, I`m not €˜running the business`.. My job is to create the environment that enables people to leverage each other beyond their own individual capabilities.

If you want to help your team go farther and help team members to sharpen their talent and maximize their potential, when things don`t go well, take more than your fair share of the blame, and when things go well, give all of the credit away.

One person who has captured my attention lately has been Bono, singer for the rock band U2. I must admit, I`m late in discovering him. His music isn`t really my cup of tea. But his passion, leadership, and activism really impress me. In 2005, he was named a Person of the Year by Time magazine, along with Bill and Melinda Gates.

There`s no doubting Bono`s talent. His success in the musical world is obvious. He has penned many hit songs, and U2, which has been together for thirty years, is one of the most successful bands in history. Together the band members have sold more than 170 million albums.

In recent years, Bono has expanded his efforts beyond the world of music. He has become an advocate for African aid and economic development. And he`s not just a celebrity lending his name to a cause. Senator Rick Santorum said of him, €œBono understands the issues better than 99% of the members of Congress. And Bono has relentlessly worked at partnering with other people to further the causes he`s passionate about. He has net with heads of state, economists, industry leaders, celebrities€”anyone who has the potential to add value to the people he desires to help.

Where did Bono learn to rely on others, to be part of a team and enlist the aid of others? Rock stars are supposed to be self-absorbed, iconoclastic, isolated, and indifferent to others. That is what happens to many famous people, and it`s the reason many music groups don`t stay together. Bono comments,

There`s moments when people are so lost in their own selves, the demands of their own life, that it`s very hard to be in a band €¦ People want to be lords of their own domain. I mean, everybody, as they get older €¦ rids the room of argument. You see it in your family, you see it with your friends, and they get a smaller and smaller circle of people around them, who agree with them. And life ends up with a dull sweetness.

What is Bono`s secret, after having been a rock star for more than twenty-five years? He learned teamwork in the band. Bono recognizes his need for others and, in fact, says he can`t imagine having been a solo artist. He admits:

The thing that`ll make you less and less able to realize your potential is a room that`s empty of argument. And I would be terrified to be on my own as a solo singer, not to have a band to argue with. I mean, I surround myself with argument, and a band, a family of very spunky kids, and a wife who`s smarter than anyone. I`ve got a lot of very smart friends, a whole extended family of them . €¦You`re as good as the arguments you get. So maybe the reason why the band hasn`t split up is that people might get this: that even though they`re only one quarter of U2, they`re more than they would be if they were one whole of something else. I certainly feel that way.

I can`t think of a better way to say it myself. A talented person who is part of a team€”in the right place on the right team€”becomes more than he ever could on his own. That`s what it means to be a talent-plus person.

The Last Word on Talent

Early in 2006, I read a report from Money magazine that claimed we were experiencing a worldwide talent shortage:

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND (REUTERS)€”Employers are having difficulty finding the right people to fill jobs despite high unemployment in Europe and the United States, a survey by U.S.-based staffing firm Manpower showed Tuesday.

The survey conducted late in January showed that 40 percent nearly 33,000 employers in 23 countries across the world were struggling to find qualified job candidates.

€œThe talent shortage is becoming a reality for a larger number of employers around the world, Manpower`s CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Joerres said.

And in what is the number one talent shortage, according to the report? Sales. They wanted more good salespeople.

Every few years, we hear similar statements about certain professions. But the reality is that there never has been nor will there ever be a talent shortage. Talent is God-given. As long as there are people in the world, there will be plenty of talent. What`s missing are people who have made the choices necessary to maximize their talent. Employers are really looking for talent-plus people. By now I trust you agree that the key choices we make€”apart from the natural talent we already possess€”set us apart from others who have talent alone.

William Danforth, who became the owner of the Ralston Purina Company, found a secret of success when he was a young man:

When I was sixteen, I came to St. Louis to attend the Manual Training School. It was a mile from my boardinghouse to the school. A teacher who lived nearby and I would start for school at the same time every morning. But he always beat me there. Even back then I didn`t want to be beaten, and so I tried all the shortcuts. Day after day, however, he arrived ahead of me. Then I discovered how he did it. When he came to each street crossing he would run to the other curb. The thing that put him ahead of me was just €œthat little extra.

Talent-plus people give a little extra. You see it in the choices they make that multiply and maximize their talent. Because they have given more to develop their talent, they are able to give more to others with their talent.

I want to encourage you to make the thirteen choices described in this book. And every day remind yourself about how these choices can help you:

1. Belief lifts my talent.
2. Passion energizes my talent.
3. Initiative activates my talent.
4. Focus directs my talent.
5. Preparation positions my talent.
6. Practice sharpens my talent.
7. Perseverance sustains my talent.
8. Courage tests my talent.
9. Teachability expands my talent.
10. Character protects my talent.
11. Relationships influence my talent.
12. Responsibility strengthens my talent.
13. Teamwork multiplies my talent.

Whatever talent you have you can improve. Never forget that the choices you make in the end make you.

Choose to become a talent-plus person. If you do, you will add value to yourself, add value to others, and accomplish much more than you dreamed was possible.

[tags]Rocky Balboa, Leadership, John C Maxwell, Talent, Motivation, Personal Development, Growth, Teamwork, Christian Living, Buy In, Success, Meaningful Life, Relationship[/tags]

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