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July 2009 - Collaboration: Part 1—Learning from Sports Teams

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.July 2009

Collaboration:  Part 1—Learning from Sports Teams

Collaboration may be defined as “working with others toward a common goal.”  Leaders will be ineffective if they can’t to get their followers to collaborate or pull together as a team.  We have all observed and perhaps participated on sports teams.  Here are five things we can learn from them:

More talent on the field.  Some football players are better runners, some are better tacklers, some are better passers or receivers, others are better blockers—and on the list goes.  The same is true for work teams.  It takes planners, motivators, intuitive thinkers, logical thinkers; and it takes those who can do the “heavy lifting” and get the job done.  Seldom is one person best at all of these skills and the many other ones the team needs.

Back-up in case of stumble, injury or a bad play.  When a lineman misses a tackle, a linebacker or defensive back helps out.  When the running back fumbles the ball, he hopes one of his own linemen will recover it.  When I was an executive, my deputy director, executive officer and administrative assistant often caught my mistakes.  Even more, I remember times when people deep in the organization helped me.  Such is the culture of true collaboration.

Individual eccentricities are tempered.  We all have eccentricities; our experiences, biases and personalities make us unique individuals.  This uniqueness often needs to be tempered by those who see situations differently.  Groups must value diversity in its membership—a diversity that can temper the eccentricities of individuals.

Motivation and Commitment is increased.  Team players play hard; they don’t want to let the team down.  Injured players will cheer the team from the sidelines.  Sometimes, players volunteer to play when they’re injured, if it will help the team.  Sick colleagues often work hard at home to make certain they don't let down the organization.  This is true teamwork.

Synergism is important.  The quarterback performs better with his top wide-receiver in the game and his stellar offensive line blocking for him.  The field goal kicker is tops in the league because he has the right holder.  Whether on the athletic field or in an organization, when true collaboration is at work, people bring out the best in each other.
John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

December 2006 - Motivating Others: Communicate Clearly
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