How Great Team Builders Think and Behave
For the past 15 years, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most effective leaders and team members that I have ever met.
These are people who value both results and relationships, and understand the critical need for both exceptional character and skills when it comes to effective teaming and leading.
Resources for Team and Leader Development
During these years, I have been exposed to countless resources, models, and philosophies for teaming and leading.
If you Google search “team and leadership development,” you will literally have access to hundreds of thousands of definitions, resources, or models that address these topics.
It can be quite extensive, in some ways excessive, and in many cases paralyzing to sift through the vast ocean of philosophies.
The good news is that there is a seemingly endless sea of resources out there that will appease just about any desire or appetite for learning.
The bad news is that there is a lot of garbage floating about in the endless sea of information. Team and leadership models that over-promise and under-deliver as individuals and companies jockey for market share and notoriety.
A Timeless Truth: Better People Make Better Teams
In my pursuit of becoming a better leader and team member, I have found it to be true that there is nothing new under the sun. Many “new ideas” are principally the same as old ones, just with different words. This can be valuable.
However, I have noticed one simple and timeless truth in teaming and leading… better people make better teams, better families, better organizations, and better communities.
Meet New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team
One of the most inspirational and dominant teams the sports world has ever seen is the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. They boast the greatest winning percentage of any sports team in history.
In the inspirational video “Better Men Make Better All Blacks” current and past players reflect on the legacy of this historic team.
They themselves acknowledge that they did not always possess the best players, nor did they want all-stars on their team if they were not great men… men of character who were not merely rugby players, but great husbands, fathers, community leaders, etc.
This historic team knew that their greatness lied not only in being great rugby players, and great rugby players they were. Instead, leaders and captains of teams past recognized that being better men created a better and more successful team.
Four Attributes of Better People
Being a better person is critical to building a strong, healthy, and fulfilling team that accomplishes a meaningful purpose and adds value at all levels of society.
Becoming a better person starts by creating health.
By “health”, I do not merely mean physical health where people have high capacities and energy for productivity. While that is one aspect of being a healthy person, it falls woefully short of becoming a holistically healthy person.
Healthy people are those who grow and maintain healthy mindsets, healthy hearts (emotionally), and a healthy spirit and body.
My goal in this article is not to address all aspects of a holistically healthy person. That would require extensive materials, resources, and experiences that take a lifetime to explore and unpack.
However, I will address a few basic, yet profound, attributes of “better people”. This is not an exhaustive list, but these four components have stood out as I observe great teams and the individual people who create them.
01 Better People Practice Self-Awareness and Self-Control
These are people who know themselves and control themselves. They recognize that there are both balconies and basements to their personality, strengths, behaviors, etc.
They seek feedback and understanding of their behaviors and thought patterns. They pay attention to how they impact the people around them and then apply their learning to future engagements.
Excuses such as, “That’s just who I am,” or “That’s just the way I am,” don’t fly. They know that they are a work in progress and actively grow themselves mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
These people know themselves and discipline themselves towards productive and healthy patterns of thought and behavior.
02 Better People Accept Responsibility
Better people don’t wait for others to go first.
When no one else is doing what’s best, they willingly accept the challenge of going first. When others have already paved to way, they willingly follow and model the way to others.
These people recognize that being willing and able is the only requirement to accepting responsibility.
They intentionally seek ways to add value to those around them and they take personal responsibility to initiate action, and they do so whether or not anyone else is watching.
03 Better People Serve Sacrificially
These people are compelled by the unshakable desire to enrich the lives of others, and they go beyond the easy means of service.
They find ways to truly know and understand the needs of the people and world around them, and they willingly meet those needs.
In many ways, they are willing to hurt for or suffer for the sake of the team. This willingness builds a profound sense of community that can endure hardships and setbacks more consistently than most.
When people are willing to serve sacrificially, it creates a culture of excellence and a culture of care.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
04 Better People Love Others
I don’t know about you, but what’s described in 1 Corinthians 13 sounds like a person that I would LOVE to be around… pun intended.
Loving people are those who put the needs of others first. They have the humility and vulnerability to engage with others and create the space for people to be loved and cared for.
Love motivates hard, yet needful, conversations. Love produces perseverance. These people recognize that love is a critical element in creating a strong, healthy, and fulfilling environment.
As the scripture reference implies, if we are a more loving people, countless other healthy behaviors will manifest and fulfillment will be experienced.
Become A Better Person
For healthy people, the question is not “how do I get others to become better for me?” The question is, “how do I become better for others?”
As one of the players in the video stated, if we want to build a “Sustaining culture of success”, then we have to have better people. In other words, if you want a better team, become a better person.
Becoming a better person requires us to take personal ownership and apply discipline to do what’s best, not just what’s easiest. At the same time, we have to give ourselves and others grace.
The dichotomy is that becoming a better person is not a destination… it’s a pursuit. It’s a pursuit that acknowledges we are a work in progress, and that becoming better never ends… in this lifetime.