Teamwork Lessons from Football Legends

RL09-28-15If there were a national championship for workplace team performance, would your team be in it to win it—or would they miss the playoffs? While individual achievement is important, teamwork is critical to a company’s success.

So, how do you get your workers to pull together as a team? Take some tips from these professional football coaches and players who have seen tremendous success on the field.

1) Maximize your team’s potential.

Tony Dungy, NBC analyst and former coach of the Indianapolis Colts, credits this seven-point formula for his team’s success:

  • Engage
  • Educate
  • Equip
  • Encourage
  • Empower
  • Energize
  • Elevate

“Those are the methods for maximizing the potential of any individual, team, organization or institution for ultimate success and significance,” Dungy said.

2)Recognize individuals who commit to team goals.

Legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, is considered by many to be one of the most successful coaches in football history. He said the power of teamwork went far beyond the football field.

“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work,” Lombardi said.

3) Show your own commitment to your team.

According to five-time league MVP and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, you can’t expect your team to push for success if you are not there for them.

“Being there every week for my teammates is really important to me,” Manning said. “It’s about accountability.”

4) Don’t let negative people sour the team.

Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowl titles as the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and believes that attitude plays an important role in team success.

“Bad attitudes will ruin your team,” Bradshaw said. “Concentrate on the factors you have control over: persistence, self-discipline, confidence. Far more failures are due to lack of will than lack of ability.”

5) Let established team members be role models for success.

Merlin Olsen, a former defensive tackle with the Los Angeles Rams, was selected to the Pro Bowl a record 14 straight times. He placed a high value on both experience and commitment.

“The winning team has a dedication. It will have a core of veteran players who set the standards,” Olsen said. “They will not accept defeat.”

A team that does not accept defeat will keep pushing forward and overcome obstacles that might defeat a less committed group.

6) Finally, remember the power of hard work.

Walter Payton, former running back for the Chicago Bears, is remembered as one of the hardest working and best running backs in NFL history. In his autobiography, Payton described what he thought made someone a winner.

“A winner is somebody who has given his best effort, who has tried the hardest they possibly can, who has utilized every ounce of energy and strength within them to accomplish something. It doesn’t mean that they accomplished it or failed, it means that they’ve given it their best.”

Strong Teams Also Mean Better Hires

In the NFL, the team that finishes last gets the first draft pick. But that’s not so in the workplace. Creating a “Super Bowl” quality team fuels company success, and is more likely to attract the strongest job candidates your company needs to succeed.

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One Response to Teamwork Lessons from Football Legends

  1. Doug Bolger October 16, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Vince Lombardi inspired many to value teamwork. An important way to help the individuals commit to the team goals is by having everyone win when any goal is achieved. Teams thrive inside shared ownership of the goals. Imagine having everyone on the team support each other’s success. So it is not just about running for some and tackling for others. Everyone commits to all the goals of the team. That is the result of 25 years of Vince Lombardi in my head. Now the best leadership development programs are more about leading & achieving results together than learning about leadership.

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