Building Great Teams (2 of 3)


(If you missed it, here’s post #1)

The Single Most Sabotaging Force of Team Perfor

When a duck falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone. Left out of formation for too long it will eventually tire out and drop out completely.

We see this happen on sports teams when one player tries to showboat and carry the game. Eventually the headwind of trying to fly alone will wear him down and the opposition will prevail.

You saw Mark Cuban on our November cover of SUCCESS. His Dallas Mavericks faced the Miami Heat for the 2011 NBA Championship. The Heat demonstrated a prime example of this sabotaging force. Many argued that never had more individual talent been assembled (and paid for) on a single team in the history of the NBA as was on the 2011 Miami Heat. They had the “three kings,” or whatever they called themselves (that had to be a clue).

Meanwhile the Dallas Mavericks, while they obviously had good players, didn’t have nearly the individual superstar/celebrity talent the Heat had. The championship should have been a blowout. And it was. Teamwork blew out talent 4 games to 2.

While the Miami Heat had more ‘eagles,’ let’s say, the Dallas Mavericks played as a unified flock, or team, and beat the Heat decisively. That is the power of teamwork and that is the detriment individual egos can be, sabotaging the greatness of a team.

The important team lesson here: No one member of your team can or should be taking the headwind all the time. Just like a duck, he or she has to have the humility and the ego strength to rotate to the back of the formation so another duck can take the lead position to keep the flock moving at top speed.

I have shared the keynote presentation I did for the EXPERTS Industry Association.
You can watch it here.
Contents of the presentation include:
> How I developed my message – key ideas on how to develop yours.
> Conclusion to a several month study I commissioned to DECODE the marketing magic of Steve Jobs and Apple: 6 specific strategies responsible for them becoming the most valuable brand in the world.
> And the specific process and sequence I use for skill development – something you can use for yourself and in developing your team.
I suggest watching it when you are relaxed (not working) and can view it all the way through.

Think about it. How often, as leaders, do we not recognize how many other leaders we have behind us? Others who want to also be leaders and share in our burdens? Leaders that, if given the opportunity, may be able to take your group to a higher level not yet obtained?

Sometimes, true leadership is to know when to step aside to let someone else lead for awhile. Then, stand by that new leader and offer support and encouragement.

And therein lies another lesson from the duck. When in formation, the ducks quack from behind to encourage those up front.

How often do we encourage those who are leading us? We need to make sure that our “quacking” from behind is encouraging—not something less helpful or damaging.

How about this one: Did you know that when a duck gets sick or wounded, two ducks will drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it? They stay with the wounded duck until it is either able to fly again or dies. Then, they launch out

to join another formation or work together to catch up with the flock. Beautiful isn’t it?

Are we standing by the people around us when they are in need? Or do we turn a blind eye and say, “Oh that sucks for you, duck”? Being part of a team is being there in the good times and the bad.

Takeaway action items:

  • Are you hogging the leadership ball? Think of several people and several ways you can have others take the lead. Then be sure you are there to quack encouragement all along the way.
  • Are you taking care of the entire flock? Is there someone you need to be there for, helping them heal some personal hurts?

Share your ideas and tips in the comments below on how you pass the ball to your teammates so they, too, can take the lead.

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24 responses to “Building Great Teams (2 of 3)”

  1. Firstly I LOVED what you had to say about striving to fail. It’s so true that when you chase success it continues to elude you but when you change your mindset to serving and helping is when you create true success. Thanks for sharing that Darren, it’s the first time somebody told me that.

    Also what you said about teamwork is so important in every aspect of our lives. It really is not about independence as it is about interdependence. Thanks for reminding us what true leadership is all about.

  2. Rick,

    Wow! I love this post of yours. What a great life lesson for your grandson and how fortunate for him to have you pass this onto him.

    My husband has our 7 and 5 year old boys working at his car wash business. The boys make money and this past week, the 7 year old, when told he had to buy his own lollipop at the grocery store, said, “I’m not wasting my money on a lollipop.” Needless to say, we were thrilled to see the lesson of value being learned and applied.

    Good luck to your grandson!


  3. Hi Darren,

    Just wanted to let you know this:

    Last year at the ACN convention in NC, your presentation struck me when you told us to “go and fail”. Get as many “NO’s” as you can. Well, my grandson who just turned 18 and was wanting to get a job so he started putting in applications at a few businesses around town. Not much was happening because he just applied and waited… and waited. I advised him, “Look, there’s a LOT of people putting in applications in this economy. If you want a job you’ve got to be more aggressive. Make a list of every place you want to work and start calling. Tell them, ‘I’ve got to get a job today. I want an interview. I’m going to work somewhere so I need an interview now.’ That way they will know you really want to work… not just collect a paycheck. Call until you get at least 5 interview appointments; even if it takes calling 150 businesses. Don’t settle for filling out an application; tell them you can do that after the interview.” I came home that evening and he had lined up 2 interviews and landed a job he really loves! The pendulum swung in his favor just as you predicted in your illustration. What a great lesson we all learned.


  4. Now corporate jobs are comman. Team skills very much needed there. Leaders need to focus on TEAM for development-not individuals. Nice saying it is really required.

  5. Hi Darren,
    It is worth to mention that teamwork is the best tool to used by a leader in taking his people to where they ought to be. keep on challenging us as it helps us criticize our own conclusions

  6. Share your ideas and tips in the comments below on how you pass the ball to your teammates so they, too, can take the lead.

    As an entrepreneur, many times my biggest challenge is to remember that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. When there is an obstacle to be overcome, or improvements that need to be made, I have learned to ask meaningful questions and LISTEN to my support team. With a carefully chosen team, a structured meeting becomes meaningful, when, at the beginning what seems like a mountain and a heavy burden to everyone is all of a sudden a manageable issue, and we are so proud of ourselves at the solutions we came up with TOGETHER. And most of the work was done by me keeping my mouth shut.

  7. Hello Darren,

    I received your email with the Building great teams article and was intrigued to hear how you developed your message and the key ideas on how to develop one’s own message. I was going to bed (at around 12.30am UK time) when I thought I would just have a ‘wee’ listen – and here I am over 1 hour later!!.. Truly inspiring and thought provoking – I will be recording this in the morning on my blackberry so I can listen again and again as I travel down to Newcastle tomorrow to present and train. You give a very clear message and distill the message until only the pure essence remains – I love your openness and honesty and will be applying the information in my own life. If you read this, I would appreciate if you could do me a HUGE favour and be so kind as to allow me to tap into the information that you gave to the EXPERTS Industry Association. I am passionate in helping others to build their own business asset to secure their futures and your material hits every note. Happy Days, Keep Smiling!

  8. This is an absolute MUST read for every leader and leader-in-the-making. I’ve heard of ducks flying in formation but never was able to relate it in anyway to how we should live our lives as humans. I particularly found it interesting to know that other ducks will drop out of formation to help protect another duck who is is sick or wounded. All I can say is wow!

    You’re so right, Darren…being part of a team has to do with being there both in the good times and in the bad times as well.

    Thanks a bunch for sharing!

  9. This is a great article. It reminds me of the Rocky Flats Closure Project in 1995 when everyone said there was no way this site could be closed (a former nuclear weapons facility)in the time frame that Kaiser-Hill said it would be done (2005) because all projections said no earlier than 2060 for no less than $37Billion unescalated. We closed it in October 2005 for less than $7Billion. It was done not by one person, not by 10 people but by a team of over 4,000 people all given the vision, all pulling in the same direction with no super stars – just a solid, well focused, motivated and incentivized team. Read “Making the Impossible Possible”

    Len Martinez
    Former CFO
    Kaiser-Hill Company

  10. “Sometimes, true leadership is to know when to step aside to let someone else lead for awhile. Then, stand by that new leader and offer support and encouragement.” Darren Hardy!!

    It is never hard to figure out why so many people want to fly in formation with you Mr Hardy!! You have a knack for simplifying mysteries that have plagued man since the beginning of his existence. If we all remembered just two words: “Work Together” the Holy Grail would be everywhere, you know?

  11. Share your ideas and tips in the comments below on how you pass the ball to your teammates so they, too, can take the lead:

    Darren, for myself as an entrepreneur and owner, team building starts in the selection process of hiring the right people suited for the right job. The expectations are communicated through a thorough job description and interview process (including the team). Once we are satisfied that the person is competent, the team chemistry is there and understands the expectations of the role / vision, we trust them, invest in them, and empower them to do their job and contribute to become a world class team member.

    Have a great week!

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