Have you ever had a teammate that only looks out for themselves? The central idea that runs through their mind with every person they meet is what can you do for me. A team to them is merely a group of people waiting around to help them reach their goals. They have fully adopted the idea if the “I” being bigger than the “we.” Being oriented around a “WE” mindset is essential for any high performing team. This is especially true when a team is going through tough times. Tough times can make “I” minded people unbearably selfish. Here is how to make sure that you are helping to build a “we” minded team.
It is All In The Language
Tribal Leadership does a fantastic job in talking about the power of language. If you want to know whether someone is a “WE” or an “I” person merely listen to what language they use more. Now there are times where you have to say I because sometimes a person has to take responsibility for what they need to do to contribute to a team.
The reality is that if you are always using specific language amongst a team that language dictates who you are and what is in your heart. Just be being aware of the language you will be able to shift from a place of being for the team instead of just being for yourself.
Stop and think about yourself for a second. Do you tend to say “I” or “We” when talking about family or talking about a team you are on? Have you ever noticed how sports fans say “We Won” or “They Lost”? The reason for this is because fans are genuinely not loyal. They are there for the good times but when any bad times hit they ditch the party.
Great Teams Are Built on Rough Times
When you go to war, you build a bond with your fellow soldiers. The reason you create this strong bond is that you go to hell together. You watch people die, get hurt, you make mistakes, you escape death together, and it makes you grow closer. Everything becomes about the team when times get terrible in war. People are not even fighting so they can return home, they fight hard so their friends can go back to their families.
An army would never be healthy if they were all selfish and only looking out for themselves. Think about the Spartans from 300, imagine if they all came to battle just thinking about themselves? One thing that made them so honorable is that they did everything they could to fight for their nation first and their teammates second. If I asked your team about you, would they say you are a Gossip Girl or a Spartan?
How to Be a Better Teammate
Put the team goals for your purposes. There is nothing wrong with having personal goals, and you should let those drive you. We all need to want to better our life, and the fact is that teams are made of successful individuals. The problem is that the personal goals should not come over the purposes of the organization. The team will help you to achieve personal goals.
For example, a quarterback cannot put himself above the success of the team because he needs his lineman to block, his running backs to pick up blitzes, and his wideouts to catch the ball. No matter how high his personal goals are set if the other individuals on the team do not succeed, neither will he. He has to take it upon himself to first make sure the team is winning and to do that everyone must be aligned with the team goals.
The by-product of the team being useful is the fact that individuals do well. When you look at the NFL Pro Bowl, you will always see that teams that make the playoffs still have more people in the game. The reason is simple; good teams have right individuals. If the team succeeds, the individuals will as well.
Make Team Goals The Focal Point
The only thing you should be focused on at this point is changing your language to “We” as much as possible. Take your personal goals and push them down. Moved your focus to how you can help the team. Take the mentality of being the type of teammate that you would want to go to war with.
The honor of being an athlete is really on your team succeeding. There is nothing exceptional about being the best on a horrible team. If you are the best, you must make those around you better and stronger. The greats make those around them better because they understand that it is all about the team.
I will leave you with this. Michael Jordan was a great basketball player the second he got in the NBA. Even though he won scoring titles, he was NOT winning championships at first. One thing Phil Jackson got him to do was focus on the team. He got him to stop worrying so much about his scoring and start trusting his teammates more. Once he made that switch, they went on to win six titles, and the Bulls became one of the greatest Franchises. He understood that the team would make him more significant not just the other way.