Timeless Teamwork Theories

"The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."   John Wooden 

In some ways, teamwork theories are similar to economic theories.  They might come from the experience of someone who has built successful teams or companies. 

Or they might be like the columns found in a certain New York newspaper filled with economic advice from a career academic with no experience in actually running a business.

In this page we'll focus on the teamwork theories utilized by those who have actually built successful organizations.  After all, once they've been proven to be successful, they are no longer theories, but rather, facts.

We'll draw part of this page from John Maxwell's very short, very informative book titled "Teamwork 101."  This edition is included in a five- part collection on leadership and teamwork.

John Maxwell has put together organizations beginning with just a few members in the early stages, but becoming very large in a short time.

We'll highlight some teamwork theories from Jamie Clarke and Alan Hobson.  You may have heard of them.  If you read our page about relationship compatibility, you know their story.

Their amazing adventures are actually one of the best examples of winning teamwork theories.  We'll get in to their accomplishments a little further down the page.

And finally, we'll present a few ideas from some other people.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery and it only makes sense to use teamwork theories with proven track records. 

I've had my own share of organization construction in various forms.  At the end of this page, I'll share the components of these teamwork theories that worked the best for me.

And in this link you can read about a friend of mine who was asked to turn around an ineffective group. 

"The Secret Ingredient"

I put that title in quotes because the fact that this simple step is underutilized to such a large degree is the reason so many teams fail to thrive, so many relationships struggle, and so many people live lives of quiet desperation.

One of my favorite authors is Stephen Covey.  In fact one of his quotes is in the sub-headline of our home page.

He has two editions featured in our list of classic books.  One of those books is titled, "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People."  In that tremendous teaching tool, you'll find the secret ingredient to any type of relationship success.

The "5th Habit" teaches us to "seek first to understand and then to be understood."  It tells us to become better listeners.  While I'd love to have you soak in all the steps included in these teamwork theories, if all you get is this one point, your chances of improving every interpersonal experience in your lives will go up exponentially.

Here is a link to an explanation of the 5th habit from Dr. Covey himself.  Please see how many times you recognize yourself in his message.  I had no problem seeing where I needed work.  This habit changed my entire outlook on organizational set-up and at the same time enhanced every area of my personal and business life.  Just a little bit of listening goes a long way.

Effective Teamwork Theories Require Attention To Detail At Every Level

Jamie Clarke and Alan Hobson both successfully reached the summit of Mt. Everest.  Their book, "The Power Of Passion" describes the process of building their team to attempt to climb the world's tallest mountain.   

If you get a chance, please pick up this book.  The crucial part of all successful teamwork theories can be found within the pages of that book.

As I wrote in our page about relationship compatibility, I was able to see Jamie Clarke give a visual insight into his second trip up the mountain.  The pictures were great, but the message about all facets of team building has stuck with me for years.

To even come close to reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, teams must be formed at various levels.  Supply chains, logistics, permits, travel, and most important, skilled Sherpas to help guide the team and move the equipment up a mountain that slowly sucks the oxygen out of climbers as they near the top.

While those few climbers who actually reach the top get all the acclaim, without the efforts of every team member from beginning to conclusion, there would be no one at the top.

The journeys of Jamie Clarke and Alan Hobson vividly showcase all the steps found in effective teamwork theories.  We'll weave examples into the paragraphs in this page.

Setting The Tone At The Beginning

Every team member must know what is most important for the team, the organization or the family.  As John Maxwell states, "If even one member doesn't know what is important, he doesn't contribute and could prevent the team from succeeding."

Please think about the group put together to help the Clarke/Hobson team ascend Mt. Everest.  The team doctor knew that he would almost assuredly not be chosen for the final push to the summit.  He would be needed to care for the inevitable injuries and sickness that goes along with such a harsh journey.

Think about those who would be left at a staging area to help with weather reports.  As with the doctor, their value to the team is irreplaceable.  

In "The Power Of Passion", Jamie Clarke describes an incident where some of the climbers had to help move an injured team member back down the mountain to get to that doctor.  Their energy would be used up carrying that stricken comrade.  And their own chance to reach the top would be dashed.

Even at the end of one of the attempts, a decision had to be made to leave one of the authors at the staging area because he wasn't strong enough at that point.  He understood what was important.

Every time I've lead groups or teams, I've emphasized this most important part of all teamwork theories.  Every member must know what is really important.  What did I do if someone on the team didn't grasp this concept?  You'll read that a few paragraphs down the page.

"Encourage Great Ideas"

One of the masters of teamwork theories, John Maxwell provided those three words in "Teamwork 101."

In that great little book he offers five building blocks to promote a steady flow of new ideas from your team members.  

* Listen to all ideas

* Don't settle for the first idea

* Accept ideas from people you may not like

* Set aside your own pride.

* Help creative people thrive

The first two kind of go together.  Don't run with the first thing you hear.  All successful teamwork theories have at their core, a method of making team members feel valuable.   

To reach that spot, everyone must feel like they are contributing to the overall success of the team.  Listening is a great way to create a steady flow of new ideas.

Three and four go together as well.  A true leader is willing to admit when someone else has a better idea than he does.  A successful leader is willing to accept input from anyone on the team.  Even the ones who may rub them the wrong way.  And by doing this you may also defuse some internal resentment.  If they see you listening to everyone, even the one cutting you down in the background, you'll take away part of his influence.

And the last point might be the most important.  In our page about personality types, I wrote about understanding the four very different personality traits.

This would be a time to put that knowledge to work.  Cholerics who are high achievers, aren't usually swayed by criticism.  They think they are always right anyway.  Melancholy types like myself have the charts and graphs to make our case.

"People who occupy a special place on the team feel special and perform in a special way.  Team niches humanize teamwork."   Philip Van Auken

But it's the sanguines who like to have fun all the time and the phlegmatic person who wants to help everyone who need protecting, because they often have the most creative ideas.

It only takes a backroom whisper or a sneer to scare them away from sharing their creativity.  As I said in the second paragraph of this sub-section, everyone must feel like they are contributing to the overall success of the team. 

Developing New Leaders

A successful leader will inspire an attitude of empowerment among the people in the organization who recognize the overall goal of the team and work to reach that goal.

This is another strategy that has worked well for me in the past.  By giving people who show initiative more responsibility, it encourages them to raise their own game to a higher level.

By listening to new ideas and admitting when someone else has a better idea, it actually strengthens the cohesiveness of the team and adds value to the guidance of the person who is leading the team.

It also has a subliminal effect on the positive members of the group.  If you set the example of supporting new ideas and applauding genuine accomplishments of the individuals, you'll begin to see this spread throughout the team.  You'll see all the true team members acknowledging each others skills without jealousy or resentment.

What to Do About Weak Links

Not everyone can stay on the team.  This fact is crucial to any type of team and must be understood and accepted for any teamwork theory to succeed.  The strength of any team or any organization is impaired by it's weakest link.

We always want to try to lift every member up to their highest potential.  Some people need a little more time and more concentrated training efforts to break out of their nervousness or outright fear of failure.

But there will be some members of your team who won't make the cut.  And the reasons have nothing to do with their ability.  In my own case, I had a very talented member of our group.  In fact he was probably our most talented individual.  And I had to let him go.  It took me far too long to wish him well on his next endeavor.  Even though he presented daily examples of the first five bullet points that follow.

There are some common reasons why some people just won't fit into your organization.  They include:

* A personal agenda bent on disrupting the group

* A propensity to speak badly about other members of the team, behind their back.  It could be the leader or it could be another team member.

*  They just aren't team players.  They don't want to cooperate.  They want it their way.

* They refuse to admit that they ever do anything wrong.

* They won't accept any help or direction.

* They don't have the necessary skills and refuse to try to learn them.

In "Teamwork 101", John Maxwell writes, "Ironically, weak links are less aware than strong members of their weaknesses and shortcomings.  They also spend more time guarding their turf, saving their positions, and holding on to what they have." 

In all successful teamwork theories, you must realize that after you've made every effort to help someone, there may come a time when you need to part ways with them, for the good of the overall group.  I know that I struggled with that decision, but when the time came I was brief, to the point, and honest with him.  And the group has flourished after he left.

The Basic Guidelines

Successful teamwork theories all have the same basic guidelines.

* Be a great listener

* Make sure everyone on the team knows what is most important for the overall success of the group

* Encourage new ideas

* Utilize everyone's skills

* Develop new leaders

* Foster an environment that leads everyone to applaud the accomplishments of their co-worker

* Eliminate jealousy and cliques

Building up teams begins with building up people.  As Zig Ziglar says, "You don't build a business, you build people.  And then people build the business."

Remember those words and remember to be an expert in using the 5th habit.  Any team you build will flourish, any relationship you're in will thrive, and any person you reach out to will be uplifted.

For more great ideas please read the three books listed below.

"Fish,"written by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen

"Whale Done," written by Ken Blanchard

"Catch," written by Cyndi Crother

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Just below is a quote from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson.  The chapter title is "Open Your Heart To Compassion." 

"Every day we are given hundreds of opportunities to practice compassion in action.  We can learn to be less reactive and live with more patience.

We can smile when others are serious.  We can drive our cars more carefully, pick up litter on the streets, recycle, and reduce our consumption.

We can resolve conflicts rather than create them, and we can become less judgemental and more inclusive.  When someone is aggressive, we can teach them to be more peaceful.  Instead of waiting for an example, we can be the example.

The more compassion that enters your heart, the happier and more peaceful you will become.  By knowing that you are doing your part to create a better world-whatever form that takes-you will fill any void that exists in your life, and you will begin to find the peace you are looking for."

What's New?

Just below is an article from Peter Schiff about passing the buck from one administration to the next.

Owning The Bubble

Just below is a link to look up your congressional representatives.   Let them know you expect accountability.

Congressional Representative Look Up