What makes a team? There’s more to it than a group of student athletes wearing the same uniform. They may look and even act like a team, but anyone experienced with competition will tell you that it takes more.
“A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable. (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993)
Creating and sustaining team thinking requires a coming together of personalities, skills and a commitment to support teammates.
A Blueprint for Creating a Successful Team
A successful team will incorporate these seven elements into its spirit and structure:
- Purpose & Identity: The purpose of the team may seem obvious, but in terms of the individual player, the team must define what it is trying to accomplish and why each team member is on the team.
- Respect & Trust: When trust and respect are established between team members, the team is able to act quickly and with focus because there is less concern about what the other team members need to accomplish. Trust and respect can dramatically improve cohesiveness and change the whole team dynamic.
- Clear Roles & Responsibilities: A key element to building trust is to define clear roles and responsibilities. To do this, you must answer these questions: Who does what? When do they need to do it? Where do they need to do it?
- Commitment & Support: A team must have a shared vision, properly allocated resources and a good decision making model. Once this is achieved, a team can move forward in developing commitment from both inside and outside (fans and stakeholders) the team.
- Directed Action: A team must have clear processes, solid alignment and disciplined execution, also known as a game plan.
- Continued Excellence: Practical actions are required for a team to grow and sustain its creative and innovative spirit and energy. Without this, a team becomes stagnant, which leads to a sense of overload, disharmony and negative stress.
- Vitality & Resiliency: A team must have staying power. It must take action to revitalize itself for added enjoyment and performance among individuals and the team as a whole.
Team Code of Conduct
A condition for being part of an athletic team is a non-negotiable code of conduct that provides a set of expectations for positive behavior, based on knowledge, understanding and agreement. The four essential elements to an effective code of conduct are:
- Certainty – The enforcement of consequences must follow all violations.
- Severity – The consequence must be a fair penalty for the act committed.
- Clarity – The process must be prompt.
- Consistency – The process must be consistent for all participants.
Life of an Athlete has opened my eyes and the eyes of numerous other athletes on my team. We never realized to what extent our nutrition, behavior, and training could affect us. We always worked hard …
— Sarah Dunlap (Student Athlete, Inter-Lakes High School )