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Teamwork Always Wins

In this blog, let’s look at teamwork. The crucial importance of teamwork was on display in this year’s Super Bowl when a bunch of relatively unknowns called the Eagles defeated arguably the best quarterback in NFL history – why? They showed the world they knew their goals, their roles, and how to roll down the field as a team. They were inspired, motivated, and they never gave up.

I spent my combat flying career piloting the AC-130 Gunship (14-member aircrews), the MC-130 Combat Talon (9-member aircrews), and commanding a flying squadron. We trained constantly in peacetime so that when we flew into a combat zone, each crew member knew exactly what to do instantly no matter what was happening around us. Our crews WERE that “well-oiled machine” every leader covets, and it saved our lives and the lives of soldiers and airmen on the ground.

Along with our technical training, we learned the importance of motivation and mutual trust. For us, this was easier than it perhaps is in the corporate world. We are committed to the defense of our constitution and country – inspiring ideals worth fighting for.

Today, I look at the three Distinguished Flying Crosses my wife framed and hung prominently in my home office. These awards I earned on the shoulders of giants – my crews.

So how to translate this equation to your organization? It might not be as hard as you think! From the top, the CEO/Leader must layout a clear blueprint for the organization’s future operating success. Every supervisor from the CEO down to the assembly line must know how to motivate employees and inspire trust. The organization itself must provide every employee with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs with excellence.

What do you do as a leader to achieve this?

  1. Strategic communication throughout your organization is crucial, but be sure it isn’t just “Ra Ra rallies” or improbable sales/production goals like those that got Wells Fargo in trouble. Your communications must encourage a team mentality, a commitment of each individual employee to the success of the organization, and a feeling that each employee is an important member of a winning team.

  2. Train your executives and supervisors at all levels to motivate their employees and inspire a two-way relationship of trust. When employees know they are trusted to take their knowledge and run with it, stellar performance and innovative ideas result.

  3. A truly excellent employee training program is not optional – it’s mandatory. Training is a tough issue in the corporate world because it costs a lot but its benefits are often tough to quantify. Consultants and “life coaches” can sell you a bill of goods that produces poor results. It’s imperative, based on organizational size, to establish training levels and requirements that truly reflect the positional requirements in your business, from the bottom up. It helps to establish certifications and monetary incentives for achieving them.

Returning to sports to conclude, I played football at the Air Force Academy for Bill Parcells, who went on to win two Super Bowls. As a leader, Coach Parcells emphasized and reinforced “collective loyalty” – teamwork. In his locker rooms, he posted this: “Individuals play the game, but teams win the championship.”


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