Successful Teams Do Things Differently

Apr 23, 2021

Hi there – I trust this finds you well. I appreciate you being here and reading this. This week has me reminiscing a lot. Bowling Green, my alma mater, won the MAC soccer title on Sunday and is playing in the D1 NCAA tournament next week in the states. This is the first appearance since 1997 which happens to be my last year at Bowling Green. I was fortunate to play on a team that made it three consecutive years. The program took a turn for the worse in the 2000’s and thankfully has made a comeback. Eric Nichols, who I interviewed recently on the podcast, is the head coach and has been for the last twelve seasons. He does things the right way and the team has been knocking on the door a lot the last few years. They’ve finally broken through and have a chance to make some noise in the tournament. I serve on Coach Nichols advisory board and I’m in a mentorship relationship with one of their top players, Chris Sullivan. These guys are special and the team is special. I’ve had a couple opportunities to meet with them and you can feel the energy – they have the “it” factor.

It got me thinking about what makes teams special and with my history playing sports, being a part of and building sales teams, coaching and interviewing leaders, I’ve put together the top three things a team needs to be successful.

  1. Trust & Connection – This is the first step. Any team has to find a way to build trust. Without it, when things get tough, you break down. And, things will get tough. Trust takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. You know it when you have it. Trust is the non-verbal connection two players have when they’re playing. Trust is reaching out to a teammate when you see something wrong. Trust is also challenging someone when you know they’re not living up to their potential. The best teams have a personal connection. You have to be intentional about building this. 1:1 conversations are crucial. Team Events outside of the “office” or field are important. Greg Popovich, the coach of the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, is a big believer in dinner and wine nights with his team. They find great food and drink some good wine together. They bond over this and, no doubt, it helps them connect and perform on game day (other than the nights when they have too much wine ; )
  2. Resilience & Grit – A mindset of resilience is hard and so under-rated. If you play on any team, you will get beat. The magic is in the response. The more you can close the gap on feeling the pain of defeat and the motivation it brings to bounce back, the closer you get to a championship team. Every great team gets beat at some point. It’s the response that matters. And, it’s not just about the overall game. Adversity comes multiple times throughout a game. A team’s ability to respond the right way is the key.
  3. Preparation & Competition – Every team I played on that did anything from a performance standpoint were fierce competitors. Practice was often times harder than games. We battled. We competed. It didn’t matter if you were best friends, if the guy on the other side at practice was wearing a different color shirt that day, you wanted to beat them badly. When you practice with extreme intention like that, good things happen. As Bill Walsh famously said, the score takes care of itself. It doesn’t mean you’ll always win but you’ll work hard and be ready more often then not. I see the same thing in sales today. When our team is prepared and does the work before a meeting it always leads to a valuable outcome.

How about you? What have you experienced or seen with the teams you’ve been on? I’d love to hear from you. Just reply back and we’ll have a chat.

All the best – Enjoy your weekend!


P.S. Best of luck to my BG Falcons as we play Monmouth in Round 1 next Thursday! Here are the boys after winning last weekend.


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