After following many sports championships, I have made some noteworthy observations. While some people study the statistics of individual players, I look almost exclusively at the collaboration, coordination and cooperation of teammates. Specifically, I look to see if the teammates make sacrifices for each other.

When a game really gets interesting for me is when one of the teams starts to struggle because they are not used to playing another team this good. How will they respond? Will they start to lose their edge? When players start to argue with each other or with officials, it is a clear indicator that the team is no longer performing at the level that got them to this game. The best players – more importantly, the best teams – maintain their composure and continue to execute well even under pressure. They remember the research and the films; they rely on the practices and the drills that got them to this championship game, and they understand the underlying concepts behind the plays so they can tweak them when necessary. They realize that playing to win is not just a phrase; it’s a requirement when the stakes are high. This is the mark of a championship team.

If two teams are equally matched – which is the goal of a championship game – the winning team is the one that maintains composure and responds best to the struggles of playing increasingly better teams.

When you graduate from high school at the top of your class and enter a competitive college, you face a new level of intensity. Chances are, the majority of the students in your Economics 101 class also graduated at the top of their high school class. The question at that point becomes, “Who will continue to excel?” To rise to the next level, you have to rely on the skills that got you to this place. You have to study, process and synthesize information, ask the right questions and understand the subject matter not just through recall but through conceptual understanding.

The most successful students are those who rise to this challenge. They are the ones who choose to collaborate, coordinate and cooperate with faculty and with other students, especially as they enter into the higher levels of their education. These are the students who maintain their composures and respond best to the struggles of learning increasingly difficult material.

Those students who perform well in college go on to compete in the workplace. They interview against increasingly competitive candidates for increasingly fewer roles. They research, process and synthesize; they ask the right questions, with the aim to understand conceptually where a company is headed. In other words, they rely on the training that got them to this point. The ones who maintain their composure and respond best to the struggles of job searching are the ones who will succeed in securing the best jobs.

Once in those jobs, these students become professionals and team members for a new kind of team. They take on new challenges and pursue different opportunities. To advance, they learn that they must collaborate, coordinate and cooperate with their teammates. The ones who maintain their composure and respond best to the struggles of the corporate world are the ones who will succeed – and lead – in their careers.

The best organizations are those with the best teams – the ones who maintain their composure and respond to struggles with collaboration, coordination and cooperation. What kind of culture does your organization foster? What do your employees do when they face struggles? Maybe it’s time to go back to basics and remind them of how to play as well in the championship game as they did on the way there.

Clifford A. Bailey, CEO of TechSoft Systems, author on success and effectiveness

This entry was posted on Friday, July 15th, 2011 at 10:34 am and is filed under S.H.A.P.E., Success. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.