The soul of success in business, like sports, rests upon the ability to assemble great teams, but establishing team chemistry is easier said than done in both cases.
Best-selling sports author and motivational speaker Don Yaeger Sunday at XChange 2017 explained how team members that improve those around them can be among a company's most valuable assets.
"Championship-level MVPs are those that give us the opportunity to win," Yaeger said Sunday during a keynote address. "But if there's anything I know from studying MVPs over many years, they will tell you they didn't get to win without a collection of great teammates around them. They didn't get to win until they were surrounded by the right talent pool that allowed them to be special."
Yaeger, who has covered legendary sports figures such as basketball coach John Wooden and footbal player Walter Payton during his career, used the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs, their veteran catcher David Ross and several other sports-related examples to illustrate the power and benefits of effective team-building.
Specifically, Yaeger discussed four key lessons for channel leaders to consider when attempting to foster a more collaborative workplace environment.
The first: becoming a great teammate is a learned behavior.
In 2008, Ross lost his starting job with the Cincinnati Reds after management took issue with his selfish attitude. The Boston Red Sox gave the career backup a second chance soon after, but then-general manager Theo Epstein told Ross that he had developed a "me-first" reputation across the league.
The catcher, Yaeger recounted, responded by thanking Epstein, and Ross committed himself to becoming a better teammate moving forward.
The following season, Ross asked several key figures in the Atlanta Braves organization what they expected from an excellent teammate, and after coming up with 16 key traits, wrote them down on a whiteboard. The intention was for each person on the team to ask themselves whether they exemplified those characteristics on a daily basis.
"It was his responsibility to be engaged with his teammates," Yaeger said. "If he could be encouraging and remain humble, he would be valued as a teammate even though he was hardly ever playing."