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The Power of Leadership & Teamwork, and the decisions along the way!

Last week, I witnessed a sophomore high school championship baseball tournament. Two teams emerged victorious and were ready to go head-to-head for the championship. However, a significant event unfolded: one team's coach made a crucial decision to bring down some JV (junior varsity) players, a move that would potentially tilt the balance in their favor. Initially, it seemed a tad unfair, but the real question was, 'Who would this decision truly be unfair to?' The outcome was a surprise (or was it); the team that introduced the JV players did not emerge as the victor.

Here is my theory on why and how this applies to our everyday business lives. One theory is that the team that won was better, and this might have been true even before the other team brought down the JV players. However, the coach who decided to include JV players single-handedly ensured his team's failure. It all ties back to Tuckman's model, a widely recognized theory in team development, which outlines the four stages of team development: forming (when the team first comes together), storming (when conflicts and disagreements arise), norming (when the team establishes its rules and norms) and performing (when the team is fully functional and productive). Every time you add or remove members from a team, you bring it back to the forming stage.

Although I commend the coach for quickly pushing his team into the storming phase, the decision to bring down JV players had significant negative consequences. The boys who had worked hard and earned their place in the championship had their opportunity to play stripped away. This was because their leadership truly didn't value their ability or believe in them enough to let them play. This decision was bound to cause resentment and anger and ultimately prolong the storming phase. It's a stark reminder of the potential harm that can come from leadership decisions that undervalue team members.

In contrast, the other team's leadership demonstrated belief in and value for their players. This team was already in the performing stage and maintained cohesion and trust, which proved crucial. The team that did not bring in new players already had established trust and was functioning at a high level, ready to compete at their best.

Key Lessons for Business Leadership

  1. Value and Trust Your Team Members: Like the winning team's leadership, showing that you value and believe in your team members is essential. This builds trust and loyalty, which are critical for high performance.

  2. Understand Team Dynamics: According to Tuckman's model, teams go through specific stages of development. Any changes, such as adding or removing members, can set the team back to an earlier stage. Leaders must be mindful of these dynamics when making decisions.

  3. Avoid Unnecessary Disruptions: Bringing in new team members or making significant changes should be done cautiously. Unnecessary disruptions can cause resentment and hinder team progress, as seen in the losing team.

Recognition and Reward: Acknowledging your team members' hard work and dedication is crucial. As a leader, it's your role to ensure that their efforts are recognized and rewarded. Taking away their hard-earned opportunities can demotivate and alienate them, leading to poor performance and low morale. Leadership's Role in Team Success: Leadership's trust and faith can make or break a team. When leaders trust their team members' abilities and believe in their potential, it can significantly boost team morale and performance. Leaders must support their teams by providing the necessary resources and backing for success. In conclusion, the high school baseball championship provided a valuable lesson in the importance of valuing your team members. Effective leadership that trusts and supports its team can lead to outstanding performance, while poor leadership decisions undermine a team's success. In sports or business, valuing, trusting, and effectively managing team dynamics are crucial for achieving and sustaining high performance. The key lessons for business leadership from this experience are the following: to value and trust your team members, understand team dynamics, avoid unnecessary disruptions, and recognize and reward your team's efforts.



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