Do You Have a Team or Something Else?
I watched my son excel at track this spring. He earned school records in 2 individual and 2 relay events in middle and long distance runs. He also earned a medal at the state meet in the 1600 meters.
While I was enjoying watching the state meet, I saw how a track team is like a business. A track team is made up of individual contributors and small teams (relay teams have 4 runners) all doing their very best at their event. And, just like a company, the team is scored by the sum of the results of each of these contributions. One or two superstars cannot carry the team. Everyone must make an excellent effort for the whole to succeed.
Every Individual Has Strengths & Trains to Improve Them
I took away one key lesson from watching the track team this season that I believe if it is applied to business, success will follow. As mentioned above, the track team is made up of a group of individuals practicing their event daily and then applying that strength during the competitive events. The coach assesses the team members as determines which events they will excel at relative to other team members. This is how the coach, manager in the business world, completes his roster for each meet.
The sprinters will run the 100 and 200 meter events. They will launch themselves at full speed at the sound of the gun and run through the tape 10 to 20 seconds later. I compare these individuals to a company’s traveling sales force who have a routine they follow in servicing their sales route. These are the men and women who are the core of your sales team that sustain your business with consistent and focused wins.
The middle-distance runners and hurdlers need to apply a bit more thought to their running. If they donâ€™t they will burn-out too early and lose to someone who paced themselves better or they will not have the correct stride and miss a hurdle. Relay teams also fall into this category since they have to work as a team to get the baton hand-off correct. The business corollary to this is the regional sales force or support teams for larger accounts. The individual must pace himself with the customer since the customer’s timing teams supporting the larger accounts must practice and communicate so that the sales process keeps moving forward, just like the relay team’s baton. If the baton is dropped, the race or the business is lost.
The final group are the long distance runners. They must work hard to keep in condition. My son (in 8th grade) ran 5 to 8 mile practice runs almost daily for months. During these runs he learned:
- to pace himself
- his strengths and built on them
- leading at the end is all that matters
This is much like a large national or global account management team. They must know their strengths, how to exploit them, and how to negate their weaknesses. They also have to stay close to the competition but only need to finish first; they don’t need to lead the whole race.
What are your team’s strengths? Are you deploying your people in ways that utilize their talents to the fullest extent? Do you provide training and education to build on their strengths or just bolster their weaknesses? We all will gain much more from building on strengths rather than trying to improve weaknesses.
P.S. Thank you for letting me brag about my son. He is a great young man and obvious gets his athleticism from his mother. We are very proud of him!