It is always interesting to me why businesses that appear identical achieve such different results. How do some remain consistently competitive while others fluctuate with results? At the upcoming CWA Annual Meeting our keynote speaker, Don Yaeger, will share his insight from years of research. Yeager is a longtime Sports Illustrated associate editor and best-selling author of books on what makes a great team and a real champion. As a huge sports fan, I was excited to read his latest book, Great Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently, prior to hearing his keynote.
Yaeger shares countless stories of championship teams in both sports and business outlining his message of “Being Great.” Yaeger’s writing is thoroughly enjoyable with stories in each chapter from “Great Teams in Sports” and “Great Teams in Business” which he wraps into “Great Takeaways.” I was particularly drawn into the sports stories from unknown high school coaches to the most successful college and professional teams.
The Four Essential Pillars
Yaeger creates 16 characteristics of winning teams and groups them into four pillars: Targeting Purpose; Effective Management; Activating Efficiency; Mutual Direction. While each pillar creates a roadmap for an organization to follow to create greatness, the chapter on “Targeting Purpose” was especially insightful to me. I believe, just as Yeager describes in his book that finding the “why” of an organization is the catalyst that will separate your business from the rest of your competitors.
His example of reconnecting to purpose with the U.S. men’s basketball team under the leadership of Mike Krzyzewski, showed how “feel-it moments” will connect a team with its higher purpose. This was a team that needed encouragement. In the year prior to Krzyzewski, the 2004 U.S. team missed gold for the first time since 1988. Krzyzewski immersed the NBA all-stars that he coached with experiences of living with or listening to active military members to make them feel what it means to play for their country. The “feel-it moments” created a culture of purpose, and under Krzyzewski the U.S. team has since not lost an Olympic game. The U.S. team became great again, and is regularly flooded with potential recruits wanting to play for Team USA.
Purpose creates the culture at an organization. Culture creates unified employees. Moments that make your employees feel and experience the purpose creates greatness.
Fit vs. Credentials
One item that I will take with me from the book is that “fit” is more important than credentials. Great teams realize that a resume, while important, is not the only indication of success. If the person doesn’t fit into the culture of your organization, they will not excel. Employees that fit into your culture will have increased happiness and be more engaged in your business.
Great teams never answer the “why” question with “because we’ve always done it this way.” Instead, Yaeger calls us to regularly evaluate each situation and seek unique opportunities for improvement. If you are ready to be inspired with amazing stories to help you understand that greatness awaits for you and your business then add this book to your list and sign up to hear Don Yaeger live at the CWA Annual Meeting.
Next Month: Overcome Dysfunction
In February, CWA Partner Toni Lee will continue on the topic of successful teams with Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In this leadership fable, he walks readers through a gripping tale that tells a story of why even the best teams often struggle. This is a tale of courage and insight that you won’t want to miss.