There’s no I in TEAM

Kevin Pietersen scores 355 for Surrey and he’s still not selected for England?

One of my favourite books is ‘Will it Make the Boat go Faster’ by Ben Hunt Davies.  It’s a management manual on absolute focus on one goal – in Ben’s case, how to make their eight man craft win the Gold at the Sydney Olympics.  And the importance of your team.

You see regardless of Ben’s individual determination and focus, he could not win that race alone. It’s an eight man crew and everyone has to be of equal strength, commitment and have the cohesiveness to dedicate themselves to that goal and focus TOGETHER.

Which is why Kevin Pietersen won’t be chosen for England this year.

Because, sure, it’s tempting when he’s clearly such a talented player. And with England’s recent run scores, a big hitter and a spare hundred runs or so would come in damn handy. But – and it’s a big BUT – he cannot win alone. Cricket is indisputably a TEAM sport and one man alone cannot win.

It’s like Alex Ferguson sacking Roy Keane in 2005. Keane was arguably one of the most talented players he had at that time, but he spoke out against the leadership and spoke out against the team, and that was just not on.

So often in life and business we focus on the big hitters, the big scorers, without acknowledging the corrosive impact that they are having on the whole team. If they get too big for their boots, or start causing bad feeling or having an impact on collective motivation levels they are bad for the team and inevitably bad for business. And in the end – regardless of their individual ability to score – the team as a whole will fail.

In a team there are always going to be stars and supporters – that’s the way life goes. But the stars have to lose their ego and the supporters have to work with equal dedication so the whole team can make progress equally – because in any team, just like in any business, if you have one pulling harder than the others, and, even worse making the others feel crappy in the process – your boat or your business will just go round in circles.

It difficult.  Often we see the big win or the big score or the individual power and think easy win. But if it’s a team you are building – not a one man band. Whether it’s in sport or business, you need collective motivation, enthusiasm and loyalty. Not one egotistical individual who may bring the whole side down.

Time to take a good look at your team and the egos within and ask if they are all making the boat go faster.  Or are their egos getting in the way of the team and your winning formula in the long run?

If so, time for change.  Go have a great week.