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celebrate the "I"

When it comes to teams, we have all heard the discussion about the difference between the “I” versus “we.” It is in vogue to talk about just the team. It centers on the fact that the team should always come before any one individual.

Well, not so fast.

I love the way NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan put it when he said, “There is no ‘I’ in team, but there is in ‘win.” This guy is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), and he knew that you gotta have the “I” before you even start talking about the “we.” I have heard leader after leader, executive after executive, and coach after coach only talk about the “team.”

The TEAM has to come first.

TEAMWORK makes the dream work.

Be a TEAM Player.

True…but it takes individual performances by kickass people to make up the team. The individual win should also be celebrated.

There is no doubt great results will follow a team of individual winners that want to be part of the team. It takes great individual performances to have a great team. Then those great teams can win at a very high level.

  1. Through teamwork.

  2. Through collaboration.

  3. Through connection.

There is remarkable power found in synergy, especially when everyone is excelling in his or her own responsibilities. Then everyone has to buy in. As teams grow, this concept is exponentially more important. The cliché goes that “one bad apple can spoil the bunch.” That rings true in the orchard and the boardroom (especially ours). We say right on our strategic MAP that ‘We will defy anything that harms our culture,’ because as the culture goes, the team will follow. So moving forward, think about the crucial value that picking the right individuals has on creating amazing teams. In doing so, here are a few tips that will help you along the way:

  • Hire TALENTED team players. Hire for culture first!

  • Build culture that supports your team. Create an environment that breed’s connection, synergy, and team growth.

  • Be part of the team. Even as a leader, get your hands dirty and show your team that you aren’t just the coach, but also one of the players.

  • Celebrate both individual and team wins. You need both to win.

Michael Jordan won six NBA titles. SIX. His teammates changed year to year during this historic run, but he only got individually better. It is fair to say Jordan needed the talents of his team to win those championships, but his team needed his talents to even stand a chance. So as we continue to talk about the value of the team and the importance of the “we,” don’t think for a second that we shouldn’t celebrate the “I” right along with it.


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