Building Great Teams (1 of 3)


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Nature Gives Us Clues
If you were going to pick a model from nature for how to create and operate as a great team, which animal would you pick?

How about lions, tigers, hippos or bears?
Those species are known to eat their young, or the new guy or gal on the team, in our analogy. That doesn’t make for good team building!

How about wolves or hyenas?
These animals are known to constantly have ego fights for dominance—definitely not good for trust and the morale of a team.

How about salmon?
Certainly their long struggle to swim upstream in dedication to duplicate (procreate) the team has to be a good role model, right? Yeah, well, the only problem is, once they have finally done the quiver (seriously, that’s what they do—they align themselves next to each other and “quiver” while they each do their part of the act), they die. That can’t be good if every time new people are brought into your team the leaders die. So salmon are out.

I know what you are thinking… eagles, right?
Eagles are good role models for soaring to individual heights, but they are poor team players. They are known to be territorial, pretty hostile toward one another and constantly stealing prey from one another.

Get this… momma eagle usually lays two eggs and most often the bigger of the two siblings (which is usually the female, as they come out bigger) kills the other sibling while mom looking on (harsh, right?). No, you don’t want the new recruits killing each other or the leaders stealing sales and clients from each other. Eagles, team players? Not so much.

No, the animal species you want to learn from and emulate in working together as a team are… ducks.

Ducks, because they work together to accomplish feats that seem unimaginable and impossible for most any other animal.

Ducks fly distances of hundreds or even thousands of miles, a distance almost no other animal can travel and it’s possible only because they do it as a team.

As you know, ducks fly together in formation. As each duck flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird following and that is perpetuated throughout their V formation. Each duck takes its turn leading the flock in flight. When the lead duck gets tired, it fades from the front and is enveloped back into the fold of the flock and naturally another bird takes the lead. By working together, the whole flock adds 71% more flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Like ducks, people naturally gravitate toward organizations that will shelter and protect them and make their life easier than if they were left to fend for themselves. I have found that people want to belong; they want to be a part of a team. It gives them a sense of purpose, where they can be a part of something

bigger than themselves.

I also find that most people perform to their greater potential when on a team than when on their own. They rise to meet the expectations of the team; if left alone to their own motivations, they wouldn’t push themselves nearly as hard.

I find that lots of people do more for the recognition of others than for their own satisfaction. Thus, team environments are a powerful force for drawing out the best within our individual potentials for achievement.

Amazing feats are created when the collective whole becomes greater than the sum of the individual parts. That occurs when teamwork is working well.

So in business, people who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier when they travel on the thrust of one another.

As leaders, it is our job to cast the vision and enroll others to share in that vision. As teams, we need to help one another and to offer encouragement and support as the success of the individual creates uplift for the rest of the flock… or team.

Over the next few posts I will reveal the single most sabotaging factor of why teams even made up of great people will fail, and the two most important ingredients for building great teams who perform way beyond their individual capabilities.

Do you perform better when supported and challenged by teammates? Why? What has been your experience? Please share in the comments below.

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58 responses to “Building Great Teams (1 of 3)”

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  8. I like your analogy. For the record, those are geese. I’ve never seen ducks fly in the V formation.
    Enjoying your blog and Success magazine. You’re making a difference at our house. Thanks

  9. I can definitly attest to both. I grew up being challenged by the heavy task of helping raise 4 brothers, one of which was still an infant while I was only 10 years old my self. My Mother past away from brain Cancer and my fathers multi million dollar business collapsed. The life lessons, and tools for responsibility and hard work were embeded in me from a young age. As it carried over to my youth and then adulthood, I noticed those characteristics cross over to my career as a Football player. One thing Iv learned in life, is that life(God) is going to present challenges. As you learn to collect and sharpen the tools to take on those challenges, success will come.. As you climb higher the challenges will become harder. But as you obtain success, you will also obtain confidence, because guess what.. you been here before. you can do it again! I used to wallow in my self for what I thought were such harsh and sad times growing up.. Now I thank God for them because they made me who iam today! Never give up, Never Surrender!

  10. The success of any organization depends on how well the teams work together. The more they work in sync with each other, the more effective and efficient the organization will be. Hence, it is no wonder that most organizations promote team building!

    But why team building? Like the five fingers on your hand, each member of the team is different. They come from various ethnic backgrounds, cultures and have various talents. If left unattended to, they will work independently, each with their own objectives. This will lead to a lot of chaos and confusion. Hence, it is important to turn these differences into benefits by tapping into each member’s potentials and channeling them to suit the organization’s requirements.

    Thanks for sharing, Darren!

  11. Hi Darren,
    Great point Darren and I have been seeing many Ducks flying overhead lately as they head to warmer climates. I too have the desire to be part of something larger than myself that I can grow, contribute and learn from.

    take care…

  12. As leaders, it is our job to cast the vision and enroll others to share in that vision. As teams, we need to help one another and to offer encouragement and support as the success of the individual creates uplift for the rest of the flock… or team.

    THIS ONE SHORT PARAGRAPH could change the world if even half of our organizations would adopt it!!

    Outstanding post Mr Hardy!! I will share this philosophy with my team and grow them through it!

    Are you aware how much you rock?

  13. I loved this article. Amazing insight and research Darren. You prove your wisdom with your words and the concern. Thank you so much.

    Love :)>


  14. Thank you for this insightful post and writing which is definitely on point and very applicable now for where I am now. outstanding I look forward to the rest of your writing and I have enjoyed the Compound Effect”! Thanks for sharing !

  15. Ya Dave, hey I love eagles too, but can’t get over the stealing from each other and momma eagle letting one sibling kill another right in front of her. Let’s just say, that’s a ROUGH team! 😉

  16. I enjoyed this blog. Simply because of its truths. I have found that having a team not only helps you to get your work done faster, but it helps keep the pride and the momentum of your organization building and thriving because each person on your team felt they had something to do with the growth and the completed goal.

  17. Yea if you look around every thing borrowed from nature, if it Quack we call it a duck.
    I would like to know what make them behave that way.and as small as their brain is
    compare to a human brain, I think it time to look at our self. there is a lot to know about
    self, like what make us so significant?

  18. Ducks-Geese–flying in a v formation??? I do know that ducks are smart enough to fly south in the winter…Do they not??? My for- fathers could have been uneducated and mistaken, and I don’t think they fly alone. Flying alone, Interesting that eagles were once about extinct. A goose is 1 and geese are many as a group. I think ducks and geese are kin folks…All in the same, they both quiver their wings in a group. Happy holidays and let anybody cook your goose.

  19. Darren, I think your analogy refers to geese rather than ducks. While they do share some chracteristics; ducks fly together, but geese fly in formation.

  20. Darren

    I appreciate where you’re going with this article but I would suggest that you do not have all your facts together on Eagles. There is probably no better example of a powerful team than parent Eagles caring for their hatchlings. They tirelessly trade off caring and feeding their young and they do it for almost four months! There is no other bird on earth that works that hard for their young. Eagles also mate for life and there is no better example of a true team than mated pairs that stay committed to each other for life. I know you will appreciate the positive criticism. Thanks for everything you do. Dave.

  21. I LOVE this article and look forward to seeing more! It took along time for me to realize what TEAM really spelled out!

    Futher… When the lead goose gets tired (s)he rotates back into the V and another goose flies the point. The geese honking from behind are believed to be cheering the point goose to keep going and maintain speed. If a goose falls out of formation from weakness or wounds, two other geese will follow to help and provide protection. They will stay until the goose is either able to fly again or DIES! They set out on their own to catch up with the original flock or find another formation.

    People have the same advantage when they are part of a winning team. On any given day the strong take over the leadership while others, perhaps those who have already made major contributions or who are not feeling well, take a rest. The momentum of the TEAM keeps a project going so the probability of success is enhanced. Their collective power is much greater than that of any one individual!

    In my business we attempt to “cross-train” tasks as much as possible so that if one “falls down” the rest of the team can get in there and get the task done.

    The old acronym TEAM says it all… Together Everyone Achieves More!

  22. I think Darren’s recent article on Ducks was very thought provoking. I tend to perform better in a team environment probably due to knowing that if I do my best, that the Team will support me since we are working towards a commom cause. Very much like a group of Military Pesonnel in Combat.

  23. The fact that people will do more for a team than they will for themselves was illustrated to me years ago in a cold calling sales training class. My antipathy towards cold calling resulted in my continually bringing up the rear in all metrics, until the instructor divided the class into two groups and had us compete against each other. Well, I couldn’t let my team down, and during the contest went right to the top of the performance chart. I even discovered that it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated, that you get better with practice, and it can even be fun when you get better and experience success.

  24. Thank you for this article. I can’t wait to see the next 2 installments. I’m a new leader of an up & coming team of fabulous ladies and I’ve been searching for leaderhip & motivation tips. (We’ve also been trying to find a mascot for our unit and I think Ducks is just what we are looking for). I appreciate the hard work and dedication you and the staff at Success have for helping us to become better, not only in our business life, but in all areas of life. God Bless and Merry Christmas!

  25. Hi Darren,

    I’ve been enjoying your articles over time, but for this one, I wish your next two follow-on were already available. Looking forward to seeing them.


  26. Darren… regards to your building a great team, I need a champion to stand up for my cause at Success Magazine. I have been emailing for week now, maybe 5, to complain about the Android app that only downloads 22 pages and crashes repeatedly when I click links and turn pages. No one is getting back to me, except a really helpful lady called Jensine (give her a raise NOW!), but she can’t help me. No one is getting back to me who can help me! Help me Hardy 1 you are my only hope!

  27. Do you perform better when supported and challenged by teammates? Absolutely!

    Why? When supported and challenged by teammates, my confidence / determination goes up, the brainstorming creates better solutions, and I / we become unstoppable.

    What has been your experience? I was blessed to learn about the power of teamwork back in my high school wrestling days in the 70’s (the power of believing in myself / teammates, world class coaching, building confidence, increasing skills, leading by example and helping others). At age 25, my wife and I started our site construction out of the basement of our home in 1983 with $2000. I give all the credit of success to the power of teamwork (family, co-workers, clients, vendors, community) as we reach a billion in combined sales over 28 years, ranked the #1 best place to work in Pa and are about to celebrate our 29th year in business. I must admit, I’ve also had some massive failures in teamwork as I look back over my life, however I’ve always had the courage during the tough times to look at me in the mirror in the time of failure and make the necessary changes, starting with ME.

    Great post Darren. Keep up the good work. Best regards, Barry

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