There certainly are a lot of nifty little phrases about teamwork.

You know all the pithy sayings, like these –

  • Teamwork makes the dream work…
  • Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships…
  • Individually we are one drop, together we are an ocean…

I suppose they are correct, at least to a degree, although I didn’t see anyone but Einstein on the credits for that little E=mc² story, you know what I mean?  And there may be no ‘i’ in team but there are 2 ‘u’ in, oh, stop, that’s a completely different saying.  Sorry.

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Teams are hard to get right, at least in my experience; the more people you have on a team, the more difficult it is to get the right mix of people and get them all working in concert towards the same short term achievements.

Short term achievements?

Yep, that’s what I said.  Everyone knows that you want to win the race, the prize, the “whatever they are giving away this week” – that’s the overarching goal and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that everyone (should) be focused on getting to this conclusion.

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But winning a game – or a championship – is really made up of a series of small victories, a loose path of single steps; these are the milestones that teamwork must account for along the way, or it’s impossible to win at the level above the tiny little steps.

How you coordinate the teamwork to reach the little milestones will ultimately decide your results.  It’s not enough – it’s never enough – to simply have the team sitting around thinking themselves to death about how nice it would be to win.  You must create an actual strategy, followed by actual tactics, in order for you and your team to have any chance at crossing that finish line first.

Sometimes being a reactionary isn’t all bad.

Again, setting yourself and your teammates up for the idea that you’d like to win – that’s certainly important, and it’s definitely step one.  But realizing this goal, in any kind of decent level competition, is not going to be as easy as that.

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You’ll need a plan, you’ll need a few backup plans for different (read: critical failures) points in your plan, and you will – last but not by any means least – need to be able to react quickly and effectively when the curve balls start coming your way.

Being able to hit those curve balls out of the park is where you get your chance to shine, and to win.  If you’re standing there with your bat in hand, looking around, trying to figure out when the pitch is coming, then obviously you didn’t see it go by.  This is bad.  Every strong tactician always has a plan, a backup, and a list of possible options for the shit show that’s almost always inevitable.

 

And we need to hit as many of those little milestones square in the jaw as we can.