I enjoy sports. Basketball, football and baseball are my favorites because they are team sports, and I am a big believer in teams. A well-coached team that has learned to work together is a joy to watch.
Since we are currently in basketball season I’ll focus on that game. Every year the top college teams in the country recruit the best players. In high school these players often carried their teams. They were constantly being told how good they were. Top schools fought for them to attend their schools to play basketball for them. They were the elite of the elite. Sometimes when they got to college they continued to be the premier player on the team. But, a funny thing happened. Their schools seldom won championships. They lost to the schools who had the best teams, not the best players. Individuals can win trophies and accolades, but teams win championships.
One of the biggest challenge a college coach has is to turn his all-star high school players into a team. These coaches know at this level it takes teamwork to win games. One player cannot do it all. This one player may be the energizing spark for the team, but it takes five people working together to win games.
The same is true in business and in other organizations. Leaders of organizations need to bring in the best talent they can find for every position, but that talent must be able to work as a team to accomplish the best results for the organization. People who are not team players will hurt an organization regardless of how talented they might be. As John Maxwell often says, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”
I believe that, and because I believe that I am always looking for people who will be good team players. I would rather have a talented person with the ability to be a great team player than to have someone with superior abilities who is not a good team player. You can always train for skills; it’s much more difficult to train for attitude. No matter how talented that superior person may be, he or she will not achieve greater things than a team of good leaders who work very well as a team.