Dallas Mavericks Show Teamwork Works

Teamwork Works

Teamwork Works

It’s another example of the power of team work. The Miami Heat with its much touted superstars-Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh-were unable to win against a TEAM of one superstar Dirk Nowitzki and a group of lesser players who worked to collectively find ways to score more points and to hold Miami to fewer baskets and win the NBA championship.

In the final game Nowitzki was not performing at his usual level. He finished 9 for 27. Even though he was 1 for 12 in the first half, the rest of the team helped make it 53-51. Throughout the game the team stepped up and and did what was needed to win.

From ESPN Game HQ

“When you are outnumbered 3-1 in All-Stars, its crucial your supporting cast shows up. Luckily for Dirk Nowitzki, that’s exactly what happened. In the Mavericks’ four wins, Dirk’s supporting cast combined to score over 75 points…”

“This is a true team,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “This is an old bunch. We don’t run fast or jump high. These guys had each other’s backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass.”


Contrasts in Mindset

1. After the game Norwitzki praised the efforts of his teammates and how they made up for his game being off.

2. Dwayne Wade (Miami), during an interview after one of the earlier games, made a comment about how if one of the three (him, Bosh, James) was not playing well then one of the the other three would step up their game. To me this demonstrated how this threesome viewed the team. It was all about the three of them. It appeared that the rest of the team was incidental…along for the ride. Thinking back I don’t recall the rest of the team ever being mentioned. I have to wonder the impact this had on the other players through the season and particularly in the finals.

There Are Parallels to Leading a Business Team.

Super stars- Whether in sports or in business they set the bar high and do the extra-ordinary things to win and energize and motivate the rest of the team. They add power to the team. However be careful not to ignore and to recognize the critical contributions of everyone else. Paying special attention to only one or two people no matter how good they are can cause morale issues.

Complimentary Team Members- Successful teams leverage the contribution of individuals with different skill sets as well as harness the synergy and selflessness of members working in concert to deliver superior results and stepping in to support each other. It is about the team not just the individual. The competition should be out there not in here.

A Situational Leader- It starts with a clear vision and strategy that each team member completely understands. It requires a leader who helps each member focus on executing their role as part of the team. Just as critical, a leader must have the agility to utilize the right person in the right slot as required and modify the plan to respond to real time changes in the situation. (just as Rick Carlisle did)

Creating and maintaining a winning team is hard work. There are so many moving parts that it can not be left to chance. It needs clarity and commitment around honesty, respect, alignment, goals, strategies, conflict resolution, accountability, and communication.

Have you taken a hard look at your team lately? Are you doing what you need to do to create and maintain a High Performing Team? Do something today before the unexpected happens and you regret it.

Has Power Changed You For The Worst?

Leadership Power

Has Power Changed You?

In an article in the Wall Street Journal Jonah Lehrer wrote about an interesting phenomenon that has been observed in businesses. A recent survey noted that most of the inappropriate behaviors such as swearing and rudeness and flirting are exhibited by those with the most authority.

Leaders Acting Like Fools

Lehrer quotes Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who notes: ‘It’s an incredibly inconsistent effect. When you give people power they basically start acting like fools. They flirt inappropriately, tease in a hostile fashion and become totally impulsive.” He also noted that those with lots of authority act like they lack empathy.

Psychologists Call it the Paradox of Power.

Lehrer wrote that “The very traits that helped leaders accumulate power in the first place all but disappear once they rise to power…they become impulsive, reckless and rude.”

Interesting survey results. John Gottman, a relationship expert and best selling author, talks about four toxic behaviors that are lethal to relationships. One behavior that is the most poisonous of all four is Contempt because it conveys superiority, judgment, and condescension.

Before you dismiss this because of the strong word used, take a look at what is included under this umbrella. Contempt includes sarcasm, belittling, cynicism, name calling, eye rolling, and hostile humor. In its worse forms it can include belligerence and disgust.

Notice If It Is Present In Your Environment

Over the next few weeks notice when some one or even you displays one or more of the above Contempt characteristics.

Some examples are:

  • those zingers in staff meetings
  • the nick names that everyone laughs at and yet the receiving party may not really enjoy. But they say nothing because it would mean that they are not “with it” or part of the team. (unwritten rules of the office)
  • the stories that elevate the leader and reinforce the subordination of an employee
  • hostile or derogatory humor in response to a difference of opinion or action taken
  • seemingly harmless sexual connotations

Toxins Are Like A Virus That Spreads If Left Untreated

Toxins can creep into an organization and limit motivation and team work. It can grow and become part of the culture. It can affect who is hired and who leaves, who succeeds and who fails. It is insidious. Unless it is recognized and stopped you are letting it happen and you are contributing to a negative work environment that could be detrimental to future growth.

And by the way, saying that “we have an open environment where anyone knows they are free to speak up if they don’t agree” is a cop-out.

Most people display one or more of these toxins at times. It’s only human. It becomes an issue though if it is a regular mode of operating.

As a leader it may be wise to occasionally look in the mirror and ask yourself if some times you may appear to be acting inappropriately.

As the economy improves we will see more movement of good people who seek organizations that not only offer them professional growth but also provide a positive work environment.

Think about it.

Face Your Next Crisis Like a Navy Seal

React to Crisis Like a Navy SEAL

The recent successful heroic mission of Navy Seal Team 6, the top counter-terrorism unit, demonstrated their ability to achieve daring objectives and remain resourceful in the face of unknown obstacles. Despite unexpected issues such as the surrounding walls interfering with the helicopter operation and causing it to crash, they immediately modified their plans and completed the mission.

Physical Capability is Only Part of the Solution

Brutal training for a SEAL takes over 30 months to be ready for deployment. With a training drop-out rate of 80%, it was found that physical ability was not enough. A critical ingredient was mental toughness…the ability to be resourceful in the face of crisis and under extreme stress. A new program was introduced to teach self management under stress.

The SEALs (Sea, Air and Land) whose motto is “The only easy day was yesterday” are now taught four critical mental skills. Think about applying these same principles to your next crisis or to a critical part of your business plan.

  1. Narrow Goal Setting
    This means having a clear focus on a specific near term objective such as your presentation to the board next week; over coming a client’s objections; solving a budget shortfall or making an 8 foot putt. Get clear, get specific and get focused.
  2. Visualization
    Athletes are proficient at employing visualization whether it be hitting a free throw, making a par from the sand, racing down a giant slalom, or scoring a goal in hockey. Visualizing your actions and those around you and the successful result is like a “dress” rehearsal. It prepares you mentally for the real thing. It gives you an opportunity to prepare yourself to handle potential obstacles and glitches. Whether it is a critical presentation, important client meeting or executive review, mentally walk through it in your mind several times. For yourself and the other participants. See it. Feel it. Hear it. You will de-stress the situation and prepare yourself for a successful interaction.
  3. Self Talk
    Our self talk influences our emotions and our mental agility. That old saying, “whether you think you can or can’t, you are right” is true. Both your internal mental ability and your external body language is impacted by your self talk. For example, have you ever met someone who says they are happy to see you and yet you know by their body language that they are not really happy to see you. Harness your self talk to be positive and self confident in a given situation. In order to exude warmth when meeting a room full of strangers, JFK would say to himself just before entering, “I am happy to be here and happy to meet you.”
  4. Reaction Control
    This is the ability to control your internal emotions……pounding heart, sweating palms, awful feeling in the pit of your stomach- in the face of crisis, stressful situations or unexpected problems. Inhaling and holding the air for 2-3 seconds and then expelling completely will help. Repeat a few times. Pausing to physically or mentally take a step back, lean back or push your chair back from the table will help you mentally decouple from the situation and allow you to think more resourcefully.

Practice these 4 techniques in non stressful situations so that they will “be there” when you are facing a critical stressful situation.