Individual commitment to a group effort – that’s what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

Vince Lombardi



I once joined a dragon boat racing team three days before a multi-state competition. You may have seen these before. They have a big dragon head on the end of the boat and a person beats a drum to coordinate the rowers. We had a professional coach come in and get us ready for the tournament. We were awful! People were hitting each other with paddles and we were out of sync. Finally, the coach made us go to shore and talked us through our common goal. We got back out there and tried again with much better success. By the time the tournament ended, we were the dark horse candidate that finished 2nd in the sponsored division.  Here are some things I learned during that time.
Unite under the common goal

You all have a reason for being together. Use that as the initial bond to bring the team together.  You’ll need to understand them without judgment. You don’t have to agree or even like the other person. Learn everyone’s thought process and then begin working together for the common goal. Incorporate bonding moments when possible. They could be shared learning activities, field trips, site visits, or projects. Include everyone on the journey, not just the ones you like. Your goal is for them to say, “We did it.”


Learn how to operate effectively and efficiently.
Learn each other’s strengths and weakness and adjust the team as needed. We were much more efficient after we moved some rowers around on the boat to a position that worked with their strengths. The same applies to your team. Build slots for people to excel and compliment other’s abilities.


Pick up the slack for our partners
Not everyone on the team operates at 100% at the same time. Life distractions happen. Health issues happen. Other distractions happen. When you see someone’s quality decrease, step in and do what you can to help them. They’ll be there for you when you aren’t at 100%.


Celebrate the victories
Don’t forget to celebrate the victories with your team. It’s easy to cross the finish line and then move on to the next challenge. Be sure to take a moment to pause and some fun with your team. You create more buy-in. It gives them a chance to celebrate each other and it strengthens relationships within the team.

I’ve always found that sharing success was more fun than winning by myself.  You can likely get a lot of things done yourself, but so much more can be accomplished when working as a team. Strengthen your team and you’ll be more successful in your career.



Make a better tomorrow.