How many times have we heard about being a ‘good team player’? Our ability to ‘play well with others’ may influence a hiring decision or career advancement. In reality, the world of the corporate team player is a bit more ambiguous. Not so in sports. On Sunday, a record television audience watched the US Women’s National Team win the World Cup. There were leaders, the visible few with corporate sponsorships, but the road to the final was won by the ‘team players’.
Why do some teams excel while others fail?
Often folks with competing agendas are brought together to solve a problem or complete a project. Each member contributes based on their skill set, but the process is derailed when goal definition and respect for colleagues is lacking. If a feedback loop has not been included in the planning, dysfunction can continue unchecked.
Which brings me back to the US Women’s National Team and one member, Amy Rodriguez.
You can google Amy and find pages of material documenting her career in soccer. She led her team at USC to a National Championship. She has earned two Olympic Gold Medals. And she is a ‘team player’ who contributed to the success in this year’s world cup.
I met Amy when she was a freshman at the University of Southern California. She was a student in a seminar I taught in the spring of 2006. Over her time at USC we would occasionally stop for a brief conversation in the middle of campus, but for the most part, I have followed her career as most of her fans, from a distance.
But it’s at a distance that you observe the consistency of Amy’s personality, values, dedication and collegiality. Yesterday she had a moment in the spotlight as she led the crowd welcoming the team back to LA in celebration.
There have been many books written about the distinctions between successful teams and those that fail.
In the end, it’s a mutual trust and respect for others that underscores the values of a team player.
Tomorrow the team will receive New York’s highest honor with a ticker tape parade in lower Manhattan. Take a minute to cheer on those who scored the goals and their supporting players.