Friday, April 22, 2011


Fast Company: What LeBron James And The Miami Heat Teach Us About Teamwork: What LeBron and company are attempting to do applies to any organization that's serious about winning. ...... their mutual sacrifice is a resounding vote for teamwork. Teamwork among superstars ....... Which tech company, when given the chance, doesn't raid the talent pool, stocking up on the world's best execs and engineers in the hopes of racing past the competition? Late last year, Mark Zuckerberg personally persuaded Lars Rasmussen, the cocreator of Google Maps, to join a host of elite ex-colleagues at Facebook. ....... For the most-sought-after talent, company loyalty has given way to a desire for a big, bold short-term project -- developing a breakthrough product, pursuing a new market, expanding into China ...... more and more people work from remote locations, and effective team building becomes an essential priority ...... how to define your role without subverting the group dynamic. ...... how to get a group of disparate personalities to gel and excel before they move on to the next gig ...... Like Wade, James now meets regularly with reporters. ..... the team's leaders have done what stars need to do when they merge: show a willingness to sacrifice. ...... New hires perform better when they bring a former colleague with them ...... Nothing brings a team together like a common enemy. ...... Sequestered 600 miles from Miami, in military environs, the players ate together, practiced twice a day, and toured the firing range as a group. They wore matching black T-shirts that read Heat Troops. ...... The real bonding didn't occur until the Heat Troops began to shed blood on the battlefield -- to lose, and lose badly. ....... "You need those adverse moments. When it's raw, when you don't get along, that's when there's the most opportunity for growth." ...... "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;/For he today that sheds his blood with me/Shall be my brother." ...... On their way to the team bus, Wade teases James about not packing winter clothes. James laughs. It's obvious these guys get along. But camaraderie doesn't necessarily translate to seamless collaboration. ....... To achieve the proper balance, it's crucial to map out a strategy. Acquiring a player of James's caliber, says Groysberg, "is like acquiring a company. You need a whole integration plan." ....... game-long selflessness ..... The rich, wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, "are different from you and me." So are superstars. ...... coaching in this league is about managing personalities ..... "All players want to be coached. They want to have discipline. They want structure. But some players get to that conclusion differently than others." ...... There is no more fragile commodity than the credibility of a team leader. ..... Everyone remembers the six NBA titles the Chicago Bulls won with Jordan, Pippen, and a cast of feisty specialists that included three-point marksman Kerr and rebounding fiend Dennis Rodman. What we tend to forget is how long it took to put all those pieces together. The Bulls didn't win a championship its first year with Jordan and Pippen. Or its second. Or even its third. ...... Chemistry takes time. The most successful superstar teams embrace shared leadership ...... They need time to crystallize. They need consistency, the same people butting heads, compromising, collaborating, day after day. ....... Chemistry isn't something you create and then ignore, like a mark on a growth chart. It's a reflection of the bonds between team members, and those bonds are fragile and needy. They're constantly changing, strengthened and fractured by the various personalities as well as the wins and losses. .......... The biggest obstacle to getting there is the blame game. Will the players resist second-guessing one another ..... True brothers, like the young soldiers in E Company who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II, don't point fingers. They believe in their mission and fight hard to cover one another's back. This is what any team aspires to: passion, unity, an absolute conviction that you can achieve whatever you want as a group. ....... In the face of unmet expectations and endless questions, bonds crack, friendships sour, and sacrifices, financial and otherwise, become burdensome. Guys move on. Heck, even über-successful teams struggle to keep it together. Look at what happened to the Beatles.

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