Monday, May 9, 2011

Teamwork Brings Out the Best

After mountain bike racing for a decade as an individual racer, I lost all motivation to train incessantly, travel to events, and punish myself on weekends during race season. I quit racing completely, but when a friend asked me to join a 4-man team for a 12-hour endurance off-road mountain bike event, I decided to give it a try. After just one race, I was hooked. I quickly developed a passion for team mountain bike racing for the same reason that I am passionate about building a great company - winning requires exceptional teamwork and is more rewarding than individual success.

A team can bring out the best or the worst in individuals. In racing, a cohesive team works together by providing encouragement, support, and constructive feedback, by sharing equipment, strategies, and tactics. There may be healthy competition between team members, but overall team success is more important than individual results. On the other hand, a team that does not work together will worsen performance. Under the pressure of a race, I have seen weak teams implode with members bickering, criticizing, and working alone or against each other.

Similarly, teamwork is essential in business. Strong teams develop winning attitudes and accomplish great things. By working together, a winning team brings out the best in each of its members.

Good teamwork does not develop automatically. Teamwork is something that an organization must prioritize and give constant attention. Team members must be able to act unselfishly and must be dedicated to common goals. When challenges arise, the team must have the skills, trust, accountability and commitment to overcome them collectively in a constructive and positive fashion. Ultimately, it is the leader’s responsibility to a build a strong team that has the aptitude and attitude to excel.  The best leaders build the strongest teams.

This is the fifth blog in the series:
Leadership Lessons from Mountain Bike Racing
Strategy Matters
Execution Matters More (than Strategy)
Play to Your Strengths

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