Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Teamwork Makes Work Better

Even after playing together for more than 50 years, the Rolling Stones still understand the value of practicing together.  The band commits to two months of rehearsal before every tour, according to the Scoro website.

The routine helps them reconnect with each other’s rhythm until they can communicate and perform almost telepathically.  Keith Richards knows what’s going on just by watching Charlie Watts’ left hand, for example.  If the tempo of the show starts to sag, a single quick glance between the two sparks a pickup in the pace.

The group understands each member’s distinctive roles:  Richards is the band’s spiritual leader, Watts is the backbone, Ronnie Wood is the mediator and lead singer Mick Jagger is the CEO, in charge of everything.

With that understanding, contrary to the famous song lyrics, they can “always get what they want.”  And then they share it with the rest of us. 

“This is the secret to becoming an excellent team,” the website says.  “There is no substitute for the ongoing commitment and deliberate practice required to build better teams.”

Coming together is the beginning.  Staying together is the development and working together is the key to success.  If we all are moving forward together, then success is guaranteed.

Watch how many sports stories you’ll hear and read in the next several months about spectacular teams.  Take your pick:  the NHL Stanley Cup, NBA championship, Major League Baseball’s World Series, the Super Bowl; it’s easy to find inspirational stories.  And a few that might remind you what not to do.

Wikipedia defines teamwork as “the collaborative effort of a group to achieve a common goal or to complete a task in the most effective and efficient way.  The concept is seen within the greater framework of a team, which is a group of interdependent individuals who work together towards a common goal.”

There are so many parts of teamwork.  One is unselfishness.  Business author Joe Griffith shares the story about bees that live through the winter by mutual aid.  They form into a ball and keep up a dance.  Then they change places.  Those on the outside move to the center, and those in the center move to the outside.  If the bees in the center insist on staying in the center and keeping the others on the edges, all the bees would die.

Another trait (factor) is cooperation as in working together for everyone’s benefit.  For example, when Lionel Richie assembled a group of music legends in Los Angeles in 1985 to record the song, “We Are the World,” he posted a sign at the entrance of the music studio saying, “Check your ego at the door.”  Not everyone had a solo in the song, even though every singer was a star.  The result of this incredible team effort was a whopping $63 million raised for hunger relief in Africa and other parts of the world.

Yet another is simply putting team members in the proper place to ensure that the team will be successful.  Everyone has their strengths.  That’s why Yankee great, Billy Martin said you can’t let every baseball player choose their own position.  Otherwise you would have nine pitchers. 

Too many people see business as a dog-eat-dog or what I like to call shark-eat-shark world in which the most important thing is looking out for number one.  Don’t make that mistake.  Support your team, department and organization.

Understand that sometimes you will be the star, and other times you will be part of the supporting cast, or even the water carrier.  Remember that every member of the team is important and contributes to the overall success of the project.  Bring whatever talents you have and be grateful that others have different skill sets that complement each other.  

I remember when I was a kid; one of the assessments on my report card was “plays well with others.”  That description is just as important for adults.

Leonard Bernstein, the celebrated orchestra conductor, was asked, “What is the hardest instrument to play?”  He replied without hesitation:  “Second fiddle. I can always get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm or second French horn or second flute, now that’s a problem.  And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”

That pretty much sums up the importance of teamwork.

Mackay’s Moral:  For championship results, be a team player.

About the Author Harvey Mackay, Founder & CEO

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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