Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lessons learned from the Sport's World - what makes a team?

Hi All

You may want to grab a coffee or a wee cup of tea and a few minutes to read this.
But before you start reading have a look and a laugh at this video.

Sometimes we may not fully grasp what working as a team is.

Recently I was reflecting on the life of a sports team and the very practical lessons I can learn about ‘team’ from observing how a successful sport’s team functions. Mostly we get to see the teams out on the field, pitch, rink, court etc doing their thing and hopefully beating the team you don’t like. (Unfortunately the team I support is getting beat a lot recently)
However, that hour on the field, though significant in the life of the team, is only a small part of what goes on in that team’s life to make it successful.

There are a number of key elements in a sports team life that help ensure a strong team that can compete well.
I think they are –
The Locker Room – the time where the team hears from the coaches and each other, learns new tactics, gets the inspiration they need to go out and play
The Dining Room – the place where they take in the right nutrients and energy boosting foods to sustain them and keep them strong and able to compete at the highest level.
The Class Room – this is where the coaches train and equip the team in order for each player to know what they are individually responsible for and how that fits in with the bigger plays of the whole team and how they can do it better.
The Gym – the place where each player goes and takes responsibility for their own personal fitness and stamina so that they can compete to the best of their ability and do serve the team effectively.
The Field – the place where it all comes together. Where the team gets into their own positions and carries out the plan, supporting and encouraging each other, doing everything in their power to fulfill their role.

Each one of these elements is vital to the team’s cohesiveness, effectiveness and success.
For sure some need certain aspects of this more that others e.g. some team players will need to spend a little more time in the gym than others, to improve fitness level. Some grasp the tactics quicker than others. I can imagine that some of the more skillful players find some of the drills a little tedious.
The reality is that all team members need to do every element, not only for their personal development but also for the team’s development.

Over the next weeks I would like to send out a similar email to this fleshing out my reflections. My desire is to continue to help us understand how we can grow as a team and what is involved in that growth.

Today I want to make the umbrella statement that a team does not form or function successfully just by showing up on game day on the field.
It is formed through the many shared experiences in the classroom, gym, training field, locker room and of course the field.
When players have to miss due to injury the whole team is affected.
Often coaches require injured players to show up for each session. Though they are obviously not participating in the training they are there for their own benefit – not to miss out on new developments, tactics, communication etc but also for the rest of the team’s benefit as they need their support and most importantly because the coach knows that it is through shared experiences and time spent together with a common purpose that team is formed.
Having the whole team together at each time ensures that -
Communication is effective with everyone hearing the same message
Vision is cast with everyone present to receive it and respond to it.
Training is effective as everyone understands the skills, tactics, game plays, strategy etc. and are given the skills to deliver the plan.
Camaraderie or Community is strengthened as they learn, grow, laugh, cry (I am not sure the latter happens in Football) become strong together and see the plan succeeding together.
The opposite happens if the whole team is not involved. Only some get it….the plays won’t work because not everyone knows the new plays…...etc.

Then I imagined what if one member of the team went to the coach and said – ‘Coach, I want to train on my own. I don’t think I need to work with the other line backers to work out the drills. Coach the Gym is boring, running on a machine and all that stuff. And Coach these team meetings don’t do much for me so if you don’t mind I will not be there – I’ll meet the team out on the field. One more thing coach, if it is OK with you I will stay out on the field at half time because the locker room gets a bit crowded. What do you say coach?’
This sounds ridiculous and of course I am pretty sure does not happen in most sports teams – certainly not in teams that are professional or successful.

As I reflect back over my life in ministry to my time in Bible College and leading the student council, as a pastor, as a leader on the Doulos and now here in the US I can see many parallels from these recent reflections that help me understand where teams that I have been involved with went right and where they went wrong.

Thankfully in all of my experiences listed above the vast majority of team members I have worked with ‘got’ team and were enthusiastic participators. I believe this to be true in our office. But, in each situation I have also observed members who chose to do what in the sports world looks ridiculous but yet somehow is viewed as acceptable in the ministry world. People who although they were named as part of the team they did not feel it necessary to be part of all the elements of team times – they just showed up on the field (in their place of work). They had similar attitudes to the athlete above, not realizing that even though they may not feel like they gain much from the team meeting times, or that they maybe ‘past’ that stage of development, the team needs them there and in fact they need to be there for themselves if they are to stay focused, passionate, informed team members. Otherwise, it is not a team but a group(s)of individuals. Team will never be created by a group of people all working individually in their offices and never sharing times of fellowship, fun, learning, communication, training etc together. And so when someone chooses to separate themselves from these team events they not only affect their ability to function as part of that team they affect the team’s ability to function. As a result the team will never reach its potential.
Therefore it is detrimental to both the individual and team alike.
Slowly but surely the group of people once called a team cease being a team and lose their effectiveness.
In every team I have been involved I have seen the possibility of this happening.

Can I encourage us all to reflect on the above in relation to our own attitude towards being part of this team that God has called us to join.
Am I like the athlete above in any way?
Have I made team a big enough priority?
Have I put my own likes or dislikes above the needs of the team?
Am I good team player?

Take some time in the next few days to think and pray through this. Ask some of your close friends, workmates or leader to comment on it.

Recently a number of us have spent significant time thinking through each of our team times with a desire to continually improve them and ensure they help further develop each one of on the team. I am excited about the Tuesday morning team Development Times. The first one with Dave was a ‘ripper’ (Aussie slang for ‘amazing’). He encouraged us to live as ‘Second Mile Christians’ – I came away very challenged. Thursday morning Prayer time for me (and I know for many others) was a ‘beauty’ (Aussie slang for ‘incredible’). I left pumped and ready for the day. It increased my sense of urgency. It encouraged me that God is moving in ways unparalleled in church history. It helped confirm for me in an even deeper way that what we do here to raise up prayer, finance and people is making a difference and is being used of God around the world. I do not want to miss these meetings – they help me ‘play’ better in the team.

The team times that we ask you to be at are Team Development Time on Tuesday morning; Prayer Morning on Thursday; Team Connect – one Thursday evening a month and some annual events like Spiritual Emphasis week. Of course there is also Team Break on Wednesday that is a great place just relate with each other enjoying Wayne’s wonderful samplings. All of these will take effort. It will involve prioritizing.

I pray that as we reflect we will all grasp a little more of what it means to be a fully functional team and continue to move towards becoming it.

Next time I will take one of the ‘Rooms’ and talk about what I have learned from it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and being part of this team.


No comments:

Post a Comment