Tuesday, February 19, 2013

8 Characteristics of Winning Teams

Why is it that most professional or college teams hardly ever seem make it to playoffs while a select few teams seem to win championships year after year? Or why do 80 percent of all businesses fail within five years while a select few businesses thrive for decades? Why is it that some schools in supposedly bad school districts achieve extraordinary results while most schools in the same district cry that they need more money and better facilities? The easy or obvious answer could be leadership but it's not always that simple.

Leadership is certainly ONE of the main factors but how many of us know that great leaders and teams don't always perform up to their potential. Great coaches lose year after year and are eventually fired. Successful business owners lose their businesses. And well meaning school superintendents lead failing schools.

So what separates great teams from the rest?

  • Winning teams are filled with great leaders. On any great team or organization, there are several leaders on that team who could be in charge at other organizations. And sometimes you will see winning organizations where the assistants were leaders somewhere else. Losing teams tend to have more followers who don't know how to win.
  • Winning teams prepare. No matter what the game situation or the economic climate, winning teams seem to make it through unscathed. They have a back up plan and when to adjust and implement their back up plan. No wonder great teams can be town by 20 points and not be nervous. And then come back and win. Never remember Microsoft or Apple laying people off or worrying about profits during the economic situation in the last five years. 
  • Winning teams think long term. They don't think prepare for the next game or next play. Winning teams plan for the entire game and different situations in that game. Whereas most teams play checkers, winning teams play chess. They think several moves ahead. Winning teams have more of a big picture mentality or approach to their game or business. In business winning teams think 5, 10, 15 and as long as 20 years down the road.
  • Winning team have systems. Ever noticed that good teams can still be successful no matter who is injured. They just plug another player in that position and keep rolling. Same with business. Even with the passing of Steve Jobs, Apple still put out great products that have almost a cult following. 
  • Winning teams know how to pick the right players or partners. They don't select players based on talent and ability alone. They make sure each player or partner is a fit for the organization. Character plays a big role in determining if the player the player will be able to work with the rest of the team. 
  • Winning teams are teams have shared experiences. When you win, lose and struggle together with a team, it builds a bond within the team. A team that struggles together, wins together. That team has a shared experience to build upon and ultimately that team can come together for a common cause and build on that cause.
  • Winning teams build a tradition. When you get the taste of winning, losing is not acceptable. Winning becomes a way of life. The teams expects to win. And those expectations create a tradition of winning year after year no matter the circumstances. Winning is more of a thought process than anything else. Win a team expects to win and cares about winning, they tend to win.
  • Winning teams base their decisions on performance not emotion. Winning teams hire and fire the right people based on the needs of the organization not how they feel personally about someone or about a particular business idea. If a player doesn't fit or if a product or idea doesn't fit the business goal, they don't pursue the idea even if it's a good idea or if the potential employee is a good guy. 
Despite the economic doom and gloom, there are wining teams and winning players all around us. The issue is that the winning teams or businesses are few. They know the "secrets" to building and sustaining winning teams while most businesses and teams are mediocre.

What other characteristics of winning teams that you have noticed over the years? I would like your feedback and comments. 

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