Recently, when asked what made his football program so successful, Dr. Tom Osborne, head football coach at the University of Nebraska Lincoln from 1973 to 1997, said that his best teams had a shared vision of what was important. This came without any mention, or measurement of talent.
At the beginning of each off-season, players were challenged to write down their goals for the upcoming season. Then, the top three to five listed across the entire team were defined as the shared goals, and thus became the heartbeat of the team. What pleased Dr. Tom, as he is affectionately called, was that the goals most often mentioned across a team of 18 to 22 year-olds, we all team oriented.
Think about the best teams you have ever been a part of in business. You likely had great individual talent that achieved measurable excellence and supporting personnel that embraced their “behind-the-scenes” role. People showed up for work excited to attack the day, and the true leaders of your team were the ones who embodied the “team first” mentality of achieving the goals that represented the shared vision of your team.
Teams like this require harmony from the top down in a company with everyone feeding into the positive flow and momentum of the team. The road is never paved smooth 100 percent of time, so naturally there are tough times and obstacles to overcome. Elite teams, however; thrive on adversity realizing it can only bring them closer. And, as it so often occurs, these teams realize that it is always darkest just before dawn.
Idealistic? Perhaps. Unattainable? Absolutely not. Team unity starts slowly and builds momentum before the majority buys in. Those who do not unify with the team are then faced with an important choice. Unfortunately, some choose to disengage and they fall out naturally. Some, through assistance from the team leaders, decide to jump back on the bus and they are welcomed with open arms.
In sports, success is easily measured by wins and losses, and then compartmentalized by seasons. In business, the clock never stops and the challenges are much greater to creating a true sprit of teamwork. We can learn from Coach Osborne though, in the way that he never stopped trying to improve the greatest assets he had, his players. He not only coached them on blocking and tackling, but in how to be a great teammate. The end result was some of the greatest teams in college sports history.
Next month, we will examine some of the obstacles business leaders have to overcome. Specifically we will try to isolate employer frustrations with the workforce and what managers are doing to overcome these problems.
About the Author, Nate Elgert
Nate was born and raised in Lincoln, Neb., graduated from Lincoln East High School, and went on to The University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) where he was a four year letter-winner on the men’s golf team and earned a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1999. Nate took a winding road back to Lincoln that led through Phoenix, Des Moines, Chicago, back to Kansas City, and then finally Lincoln once again in 2005. Before coming to Aureus Group in 2006 as an account manager in the Lincoln Accounting and Finance office, Nate was a golf professional, an advertising rep, and a mortgage lender. Currently, Nate is a senior account manager. He enjoys playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his wife Angie and daughter Sofia, who is 2. Nate and Angie are also expecting their second little girl in May.