Every year we choose a new theme at Management Services Northwest, and in 2017 our Corporate Theme is “T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Accomplishes More.” This year we want to work together to be a high functioning, highly effective team with a laser focus on our mission to be the company of highest reliability.

This season I have been observing what makes teams successful from watching young high schoolers play basketball.  My family and I have been attending many games and enjoyed watching our boys and girls teams of Lynden Christian High School both take home Bi-District Champion titles last week. The next step is the WIAA State Basketball Tournament in Yakima, Washington, where the top teams in the league will battle for the Best in State Trophy.

There are key components to make a successful team, both on the basketball court and in business.

First, to have a successful team you must have talented players.  It takes talent along with skill to win.  Each player must know their role and do what is required to win. Sometimes there are several skilled players but they don’t share the ball and play together.  A team must have selfless members.  In one game with just a few seconds on the clock I watched one player try to do it by himself as he took the ball all the way down the court to the basket and ran out of time.  If only he would have passed the ball to his teammate who was down court, they could have made the basket.

In addition to talent, a team must have passion.  There must be passion for the game combined with zeal to win.  It was exciting to watch some teams with passion and drive exuding from them as they played and it made you want to cheer them on.  The intensity flowed into the stands and then back down to the court. The team could then feed off the energy of the crowd to push them over the top.

Talent does not shine without dedication and hard work. The team must be dedicated to one another as well as improving one’s personal skills. You could tell a team that worked together – a pass without looking, sprinting to take a charge, confidence to try and steal the ball knowing their teammate would have their back. True teams work in unison.

Then of course, a team needs a leader. Not another player but someone offering direction from the sideline. I couldn’t help but notice the coaches and how they differed in approach.  You can have a great team, but without a great coach a team can only go so far. It was inspiring for me to see the great coaches leading their teams with honor and integrity.  Encouraging their players to stretch themselves, correcting mistakes without being demeaning, and patting their backs in accomplishment. I admired the ones that were examples of professionalism, dignity and great sportsmanship, versus the ones that screamed at their teams, the refs, and aggravated the fans.

Great teams have members that are collaborative, talented, and committed to giving their best.  Great teams have leaders that instill passion, promote teamwork, teach skill, and encourage dedication.  This combination makes a team unstoppable, and winners every time.