In my book, The Collaborator: Discover Soccer as a Metaphor for Global Business Leadership, I describe the game of soccer as the best example of a sport with teams charged to perform their work under changing conditions. Why soccer? Played at its highest level, the best soccer teams in the world succeed by applying a mindset that recognizes a mutual dependency or interdependency between players on the field described as genuine collaborative teamwork.
We know that most people don’t function with a mindset that supports genuine collaborative teamwork. The typical mindset supports group work that is more about cooperating and coordinating with others. This disconnect explains, in part, why team development has been an ongoing challenge in organizations.
In The Collaborator… 11 operating principles are introduced – and serve as governing principles – to describe how people can cultivate an alternative mindset for practicing genuine collaborative teamwork in the workplace. These principles mirror actions that happen on the soccer field. Once understood, they must essentially become habits for the team to develop. Listed below are the 11 operating principles - habits of highly effective teams. These are listed in no order…and are in-play all of the time:
(1) Focus On Team – Not Position: Addresses the need to focus on results produced when all positions effectively interact on the business field;
(2) Understand That Everyone Can Play: Recognizes that technology is the great enabler allowing people everywhere – to play…to collaborate….in business;
(3) Embrace Diversity: Represents the prerequisite for partnering in global business…and serves as a springboard for establishing trust… Diversity brings strength to teams;
(4) Rely On Each Other: Reinforces the team orientation…minimizes the silo mindset…recognizing a mutual dependency between people…promoting genuine collaboration;
(5) Promote Both Individual & Team Values: Deals with managing both values in a never-ending cycle to help ensure that the process for producing team results is working;
(6) Seek Skillful, Adaptable Players: Promotes the need for flexibility for managing change…requires people and teams who can quickly assimilate and use new skills, information and the like…and recognizes that multiple skills are needed to play the game of business;
(7) Charge The Team To Perform The Work: Recognizes the self-directed nature of the team charged with performing the work…and recognizes that the team’s performance during the game (business) is left up to the team;
(8) Empower Players To Win: Speaks to the commitment to developing all employees…to providing continuous feedback….all for the purpose of positioning people to make better decisions;
(9) Coach Teams To Respond To Changing Conditions On Their Own: Reinforces the application of a real team…self-directed, operating on a real-time basis…responding to changing conditions;
(10) Develop Partners On The Field: Recognizes that all players on the business field are leaders…and requires viewing every opportunity as a leadership development step;
(11) Achieve Cross-Cultural Agility: Calls for leveraging relationships in business to achieve results…transcending technique in dealing with people across cultures.