One of the core values of our basketball program is being unified. I would not have to debate long, or at all, to convince you that a unified team has the best chance to reach its potential. And, we all would probably agree on specific demonstrations of togetherness teams might display that illustrate this unity.
I believe there is a daily, almost moment by moment, piece to unity that goes unaddressed too often. It’s not tied to a big play or a celebration of a career milestone. It’s not about receiving credit or even acknowledging a job well done.
It’s simply an indication that you care. If you don’t care, you shouldn’t be on a team. If you do care, you should be willing to take actions that reflect that.
For us, unity boils down to a single, specific action: speaking and acting with urgency. I realize this doesn’t articulate every aspect of being unified, but on our team it is a clear indicator of who truly cares about the team.
Why Should We Care? Let’s start with a fairly common example: a team member that is quiet and holding back in meetings. When confronted on it he typically brushes it off saying he agrees with everything. Whether he agrees or not isn’t the issue though. The issue is the disengagement with the group. Holding back when he agrees and could be reinforcing the vision and actions of the group is selfish because he is robbing team members of additional courage and confidence his voice might lend. Likewise, refraining from addressing behaviors and actions he disagrees with is also selfish because he is simply choosing his quiet comfort over the optimal performance of the team.
To see this example clearly, just look at the opposite. A team member that is out-spoken and consistently championing the visions and actions of the group, whether she agrees and they benefit her individually or not, is a good teammate. A team member that calls out and addresses below standard behaviors and actions has prioritized the performance of her team ahead of her personal comfort.
This is not to say a quiet team member can’t be a unified teammate. However, as a leader, if we truly want to maximize our team’s performance we must be willing to dig in and find out why team members are unwilling to venture from their personal asylum.
And, I’m a quiet person isn’t a reason. It’s an excuse.
REAL TALK - Action Steps One of the most important aspects of helping others gain the courage to communicate with teammates is sharing one of the most prominent dichotomies of leadership: while it’s not about you, it’s really all about you.
The vision is that of the team. The expectations are that of the team. The results are that of the team.
However, you are the one that must decide if it’s worth it.
You must willingly choose to embrace the vision of the team. You must decide if the sacrifices required to meet the expectations are worth it. You must weigh sharing the credit, and the blame, for whatever results are achieved.
Value Your Time
It’s the most valuable commodity we will ever have. How you spend it should reflect that. If you are a member of a team that is unwilling to communicate with your teammates, you’re wasting your time. Get on the bus or get off. Your time is too important. And, while you’re at it, do it with some urgency. You don’t have all day. Your time will pass just like everyone else’s. Make the most of what you have.
Value Your Opportunities
I’m lucky. From the age of seven, I have always been a part of a sports team. It’s one of the best parts of coaching - you always have a team. I know I didn’t always view each new group as an opportunity as I do now. People thrive in teams. In the current times we may be expected to socially distance physically, but don’t ever allow yourself to get there mentally. Be sure to appreciate the camaraderie and love a team provides. Those experiences are limited.
The work you’ve done, the challenges you’ve faced, and the people you’ve impacted to this point in your life are real. The contribution you’ve made is significant. Avoid comparison, it’s a liar. Take care of your mind - meditate and read. Take care of your body - eat right and exercise. Sure you want to do those things for yourself, but also because they allow you to bring the best version of yourself to the team.
In order to be unified, I believe you must speak and act with urgency. A willingness to speak up for the good of the team must supersede your desire to stay comfortable.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com. We would love to know how we could help!