Players vs. Team – What Makes a Team

Every two months, our Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists™ team of consultants, marketing folks, and operations leadership get together for a conference call. Being based across the country, we make a point of having this team call every two months to talk about the industry, the company itself, strategic planning, new product offerings, fine tuning for our clients, opportunities for clients-and we always try to allocate time for personal or professional stories from each of our team members.

This summer, we spent some time specifically around storytelling. Our goal was to learn more about each other-so the consultants who don’t always get face time with each other could share experiential stories about client interactions. It was also for our operations team and marketing folks to understand (even better than they already do) what happens in the field. Most of our team has been with us for over three years, some over seven years; so we know each other, but we wanted to get to know each other even better. We wanted to share stories of our success with clients, but also talk about ourselves, our passions, and our personal successes or life stories.

It was an amazing session. Typically, the meetings last two hours. This one lasted almost three! I would encourage any organization to undertake such an exercise. Personally, I took away a great deal more than I gave! I heard some incredible stories about our team members and clients. I also took away knowledge, leadership skills, and great nuggets to help me be a better consultant, leader, husband, father, and community supporter. I want to tell a story shared at this meeting by our Ontario-based Senior Consultant Chris Reed. This is a shortened version, so don’t hesitate to reach out to Chris for the full story and details; but you will get the point. I think many will be able to relate to the story, but it is the response-and what I consider a quote worth remembering and putting into practice-that is truly profound.

Chris is a hockey coach. As all of us know, coaching is not easy. It is a passion, but dealing with parents is quite often one of the biggest hassles for any coach of kids at a competitive level. One of the toughest parts is selecting your team. That means you need to make “cuts” at the tryouts.

Chris had such a situation. He had a boy try out for the team that was what my nine-year-old daughter refers to as “a handful.” But Chris had also had personal experience with this same youth in other areas of community programming. This boy was a handful to say the least! Chris identified this early on during the tryouts with his superiors (mentors in the league who are there to support new coaches and help other volunteers with situations) and they agreed that they would give the young fellow the benefit of the doubt. In fact, through the entire tryouts, even when the boy (who was a very good hockey player, probably one of the top individuals in the group) was uncooperative, abusive, and such, they never cut him. But then came the final cuts. Chris knew he could neither have, nor did he want this boy on the team. He chose to cut the boy. He knew the consequences. He had “run across” the mother before. You know her. She is the screamer in the stands, the one who tells the refs how to do their job, knows more than the coaches, and is convinced that her child will be an NHL superstar one day. Chris knew she would not wait the 24 hours suggested to all parents as a cooling-off period before approaching the coach or league officials when they receive notice of who is being “cut” and kept! In fact, as Chris and his volunteer coaching mentor walked out of the coach’s room after delivering the final notices, they saw her storming across the rink. She demanded to know why her son had been cut, because he “deserved” to be on the team!

As Chris told us, he is not sure where his answer came from, but it was perfect. He looked her in the eye and said “It’s not the 15 best players that make the team, but more the right 15 players who make the best team.” That mom was speechless. When I heard the story, I was too.

Thanks, Chris, for this and for your leadership on the team and with our clients. Truly, that statement goes well beyond any sport team. It goes for all of us, every day with our teams in the community and at work!

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments to our blog below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.

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