Greetings dear friends & welcome to my world again this week. Forty two weeks ago I wrote in article #637, about believing in miracles & my admiration of a Tasman Mako rugby team winning the Mitre 10 national championship for the first time. As we enter the third round of this forthcoming season, following two recent wins, I am reminded of the story of 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team & their pursuit of the gold medal being one of the greatest Cinderella stories in all of sports history.
But it was far more than just a great sporting event. It is also a great case study about what makes a great team. The principles apply to all teams. In my article this week I want to mention three of the qualities Coach Herb Brooks mentioned which can be helpful for building all sorts of teams.
Build a Sense of Family. Brooks said even though these hockey players came from all different walks of life, they “came together”. They were not just “on” a team, they “became” a team. This means authentically caring about the other players on the team & taking the time to enter into relationship with them. They had a sense of community transcending the goal they were trying to accomplish. When we think about building great teams today, relationship & a sense of community are crucial. It cannot just be about results, it also has to be about relationship. 1
Hard Work and Sacrifice. Not surprisingly, there was an incredible commitment & work ethic. You do not half-heartedly stroll into greatness. Coach Brooks set up an extremely rigorous training schedule. They played 61 exhibition games prior to entering the Olympics. One night after a poor exhibition performance against Norway, the team started toward the locker room after the game. The coach yelled “Get back on the ice.” For more than an hour they did gruelling line drills, which the team called “Herbies”, named after their coach. After trying to get the team to leave, the custodian turned off the lights. And Coach Brooks had them keep skating in the dark. 1
Representing your country or province playing for a gold medal or a rugby championship is an incredible honour & worthy of your very best. How much more should this be true for us? Many make lofty statements like this all the time in leadership roles. But I do think we should really take the time to ask ourselves if we really believe it all. Do my actions, passion & work ethic reflect someone who deep down believes what we do in daily matters… and matters so it will be remembered?
Great Resiliency. One definition of resiliency is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. Great teams do not give up. When they get knocked down, they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, & get right back to work. They learn from their mistakes & they get better. They have a strong spirit of endurance & perseverance. 1
Leadership can be messy. Doing leadership with a team is even messier. We are in a battle which is real. There will be times when there is lack of clarity & lack of communication. There will be seasons of chaos & dysfunction in your organization. You will be let down by people & trust will be breached. It just comes with the territory. To be a great team you must develop a thick skin & a never give up attitude.
It is pretty easy to read an article & gain new insights about teams. It is also fairly easy to sit with your team & discuss the vision & mission of your organisation. The real challenge is take the risk to start implementing & living the dreams &/or goals to achieve. Building a great team is not easy… it never has been. But it is not an overstatement to say our impact hangs in the balance.
I leave you to ponder a famous quote from Herb Brooks…
“Risk something or forever sit with your dreams.”
I hope my comments each week are helpful dear readers; & again, provide just an opinion, from my world. Thank you for taking the time to be with me, I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes.
 Herb Brooks