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An All Blacks Lesson: What Makes a World-Class Team?

Why Is Teamwork Important

For a team to be truly exceptional, leaders need to ensure their team understands the bigger picture. Every person needs to be pulling their weight and accountable to achieve the best results. Teamwork is an important building block of a world-class team. However, many leaders forget that their team is only as strong as its weakest link. But before we talk about how leaders can focus on building a solid team, let’s look at what makes a bad one.

Letting the Team Down

Lone wolves. Negative people. Poor performers.

If you’re determined to build a positive team culture, none of the above words should be in your vocabulary.

You may have some lone wolves who are still good at hitting KPIs, but if they’re not contributing to your team and business objectives then their value quickly diminishes. These types of employees prefer working alone and will avoid sharing their knowledge or collaborating with others. This lack of cooperation can pose as a problem when they leave and take their state secrets with them.

In a tight-knit team, negativity can be hugely damaging. It can encourage conflict, which can lead to less collaboration between employees. More than that, a bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. Toxic behavior is infectious and if it isn’t quickly nipped in the bud it can sabotage morale, instilling further negativity throughout the team; converting optimists into pessimists.

Having team members who aren’t performing well can also be detrimental to your team. When team members aren’t pulling their weight, other employees have to make up the difference. Although addressing these issues can be awkward, the impact poor performance can have on overall productivity, quality of work and team morale can be huge if left alone.

A World-Class Team

Let’s take an analogy from the All Blacks. According to the most successful sporting team in human history, culture is everything. “Better people make better All Blacks.” And they’ve really got a point. They’re dedicated to working hard to develop a culture of winners; hard work, respect and positive attitude. This ethos is the cornerstone of building a world-class team, so why should any employer expect anything less?

Employees who don’t act like team players don’t appreciate that they’re part of a much bigger picture. Instead, they hover in the kitchen, encourage side conversations, cause distractions to their teammates and generally drag down their colleagues and management.

With low commitment to their employers, these employees don’t understand that they’re in a job where their employer expects, and is paying for a return on their investment. Rather, it appears they take their job for granted and seldom put in a hard days’ work, like they have a rite of passage. They have a job but they don’t believe they need to deliver anything.

So, why are they still there?

Taking Up the Challenge

As a leader, do you know what sort of team you have, what you want and expect from them? Does your work ethic align with that?

What does work ethic look like for you? Does it mean hard work? Meeting targets? Or does it mean going beyond what is expected and travelling the extra mile? Is it being passionate about what you do? Are their jobs what gets your team out of bed each morning?

Defining a solid team ethic is everything if you are to succeed in your role and enable others to do the same. Use it and take up the challenge of stamping out petulance, poor attitudes, selfishness, negativity, time wasters and poor performance in your team.

Would you ever see an All Black not being on time for a training session or ever see them disrespect their code or their managers? No, and that’s what makes them a world-class team.


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