Community//

To Set the Stage for Great Teamwork, Look No Further than the Sports Pages

Team sports teach us a lot about how to achieve great teamwork in the workplace.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Setting the stage for great teamwork in the workplace is a lot like creating a new team sport, like soccer nuevo.

In team sports, how the game is won is crystal clear. There’s a time limit—urgency. There’s an arena and a well-defined playing field. There are rules. There’s a way to keep score in real-time. There’s a referee and a coach. These things frame up the game and make it engaging for the players. 

The same holds true in business. We need to clearly define how the game is won (a shared time-bound goal), how the score is kept (real-time performance feedback), and the constraints (boundaries, rules, & structure).

Once we’ve defined the elements of the game, we need to recruit players, but to achieve great teamwork, the players can’t all be strong in the same way. A team of all-star goalies won’t get us wins. We need players with complimentary capabilities.

And team sports don’t have 5+ ways to win or separate ways for each player to win. They have one way to win, and it’s crystal clear to everyone, time-bound, and measurable. In fact, great teamwork can’t happen without one overarching, clear goal; it’s a prerequisite. 

Additionally, while the game and its rules are rigidly defined, how the game gets played is fluid. Players need control over how winning is achieved. It’s essential for engagement, and engagement is crucial because the game is won or lost on the team’s performance. So winning requires that the players have some intellectual range of motion, to discover how to best use their collective capabilities—a balance between discipline and spontaneity.

As the game is played, the referee enforces the rules and resolves disputes, while the coach nudges the team in directions that improve their energy, strategy, and capabilities. 

The game is won or lost through the actions of the players—through their split-second decisions. If the game is clear, and the team has a referee and good coach, the stage is set for winning through great teamwork!


Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Wisdom//

What Sports Taught Me About Leadership and Teamwork

by Amy Blaschka
Community//

10 Life Lessons learned through Sport

by Dan Macadam
Community//

3 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Sports

by Geoff Pilkington

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.