Hello, hello! I am so excited to tell you I am a new author at SportsNetworker.com.
Every 2 weeks I will share what I have learned over 10 years’ experience at leading positions on the sports industry, and also through my experience as an amateur athlete, addicted to several sports.
Let’s talk about teamwork today. How many times have you heard this: “Work as a team was key to our success.”? Or maybe “You guys should work as a team to make this project successful.”
Sound familiar? Well, it is true that successful groups work as a team, both on the field and off. But we don’t take our time to really understand how this happens, or how we can make this happen in our work group. So today I want to share what I have learned about teamwork and how I have applied it in my career in the sports industry.
Where Is The Best Place To Learn About Teamwork?
Mountain bike trips in Brazil. That’s right. I have learned so much about teamwork on those trips.
Nowadays I live in Panama but I am originally from Brazil. I really enjoyed sports in my beautiful country while I was living there. I was part of a mountain bike group and every 2 weeks we would go for a trip on the mountains. Not only were these trips awesome, we enjoyed all the preparation as well. We were constantly working as a team on a small project: the next trip. We had to choose the routes, prepare the maps, agree on the meeting points, check the weather forecast, tools, first-aid kit, cameras and so on.
We usually were six to ten mountain bikers together on the weekends. After a while, each one assumed a task inside the group. That was a natural process; people were just making things happen accordingly to their best skills.
And every single trip was a success.
We could spend the entire day together riding and having fun, no matter how difficult the route. I realized we were always happy and proud of ourselves at the end of the journey. We even have pictures to prove it; all dirty and tired, but the smiles… we always had huge smiles on our faces.
So How Is Teamwork Learned on A Bike Ride?
The group was applying an important principle of “teamwork” without even thinking about it. Each member is unique and has unique skills, which must be identified and leveraged, to positively impact the project.
Our diverse group had the map specialist and leader, the mechanic, the cameraman, the doctor, the task organizer and of course the strong guy that could go back and forth several times on the mountain to check if we were all ok.
Thanks to that, no one was left behind and no one got seriously hurt (yes, we had minor accidents in downhill but speed is part of the fun, right!?) We always found our way on the trails, we were fast to change flat tires or broken chains and we had incredible pictures and movies from the trip to watch together during the barbecue.
Oh, I forgot to mention another essential member of the group: the barbecue master, to ensure we would eat properly after the intense riding!
How Teamwork In The Wild Translates To Teamwork In Business
And what does all this information have to do with teamwork in business?
I strongly believe we should focus on our best skills, the ones that are natural to us, already part of who we are. We must identify these strengths and leverage them on our work group. We also must find ways to apply them. It is not possible to be happy and successful in our careers if we don’t use our best skills and our strengths.
Think about what you do better and how you feel when you are doing something you are really good at. It feels good, right? We have the sense of fulfillment and joy. Pay attention on how this positively impacts your work group and the projects you are developing together.
We are good at things we love to do. In my mountain bike group, the map specialist always did his best to ensure his maps would guide the whole team perfectly. Of course, this is something he enjoys doing and he is really good at. We all knew we could trust his maps as well. If there was a problem, we just had to stop and wait. The rescue would come and we didn’t have to wait long.
Your work group must recognize you for your strengths. Each member must feel that you are trustful and you are doing your best on behalf of the team.
Successful teamwork only happens when all the members have space to be themselves in the group, expressing their uniqueness and combining individual skills to achieve the same common goal.
Three Important Things Teamwork Needs
Don’t forget to add leadership, trust and flexibility to the equation. Every successful group has a successful leader that will guide everyone accordingly to the map that was previously prepared. All members must trust that the others will take responsibility on their tasks, and of course everyone must deliver all assigned tasks perfectly and on time.
But sometimes the route will have to suffer adjustments in order to help the group achieve the final goal. That is why flexibility is also so important for successful teamwork.
Of course there will always be room for improvement and we cannot forget that we have weaknesses waiting to be polished.
But if we focus on our weaknesses we won’t be taking full advantage of our strengths. We tend to think about how we can make our weaknesses disappear but we never take the time to think on how we can make our strengths even stronger.
I personally use this knowledge from my mountain bike trips to evaluate projects that I will be involved in and also job proposals. I ask myself: am I using (or will I be using) my best skills? Will this project make me smile? Am I offering my strengths to my work group? Should I search different projects that will fit better to my unique skills?
By the way, I was the task’s organizer on my mountain bike group and people counted on me as a project leader, excellent organizer and to be good at following up tasks that needed to be accomplished. I would love to hear from other leaders as well to talk about how we can get even better
Let me know if this article was helpful to your professional development. If so, please share to your work group and friends. And I want to hear more from you. Are you using your strengths at work? Do people recognize your strengths? Do you recognize your colleagues’ strengths? Don’t be shy – leave your comments below so we can chat more about teamwork!