The biggest obstacle to personal and team success is the ego. It can lull us into thinking we are better than we are, it can block us from accepting better ideas, and it can turn away the very people who could help us succeed.
In building a team, a team leader’s first order of business is understanding her strengths and weaknesses. The better a leader knows herself, the more readily she can surround herself with people who possess complementary strengths and perspectives.
No One Person Can Do It All
The challenge is to overcome our self-centered thoughts and to willingly accept that other people can have better ideas. In many cases when I’ve failed, the failure has occurred because my ego got in the way of listening to different points of view and truly understanding the potential outcomes.
It might sound as though all you need to do is get a group of people with different skills together, and—presto!—you have an unstoppable team. But building unstoppable teams is challenging.
For one thing, our egos, our pride and insecurities, may prevent us from seeing where our true powers (and our real weaknesses) lie. Second, it’s not always easy to recognize other people’s superpowers. Third, it can be a challenge for individually gifted people to see the benefit of working with others to accomplish a common goal.
Team Players, Not Individual Superstars
The most successful teams of all time aren’t always the most famous ones, nor are they always driven by a central superstar. To the knowledgeable sports fanatic, John Wooden’s UCLA basketball teams are the gold standard of sports success. In twelve years, Wooden’s teams won ten NCAA titles, including a remarkable seven in a row. No team since has won more than two consecutively.
Coach Wooden often spoke about his coaching philosophy. He thought of himself as a teacher, and along with a focus on getting his team into top condition, he wanted his players to experience peace of mind—knowing that they’d given their best efforts; he also celebrated them as team players, not as individual superstars.
Though he spoke in detail about building championship teams, there is one topic he never discussed with his teams: winning. He didn’t want his teams focused on winning; he wanted them focused on giving their best efforts for the team, respecting each other, and eliminating ego from play. He reminded his players constantly, “Much can be accomplished by teamwork when no one is concerned about who gets credit.”
Empower People to Achieve Their Highest Potential
Empowering teams can be challenging, because it requires the leader to let go, to relinquish control so that others can step up, make decisions, and take control as well. For those who are insecure, proud, egotistical, or selfish, sharing one’s power is a foreign and terrifying concept. As a leader, one’s role is to grow one’s people to achieve their highest potential. In case you missed it, see also “Educate and Empower Teammates for Bigger Leadership Roles.”
We’re just starting the last quarter of 2019. Are you letting your ego get in the way of reaching the goals you set at the beginning of the year?
Learn More About Building Unstoppable Teams
Unstoppable Teams: The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership
Unstoppable Teams is the handbook for how to build care-based teams that will push people to achieve more than they ever thought possible.