There’s a Whole Lotta “WE” in Team

Leave it to the Olympic spirit to remind us all just how important teamwork can be for the success of just about anything. This week, as I’ve been glued to the TV watching coverage of the Summer Games, I’m constantly reminded of one of my favorite Olympic memories: watching Kerri Strug vault the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team into history at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. While it may have been Strug who got most of the spotlight that night, it was truly a team effort from each of the other six members who equally contributed to that magical evening where the “Magnificent Seven” took the Gold medal – and captured America’s hearts.

It’s not too different in the business world.  You’ll rarely find a successful business professional without a strong team behind them, and similarly, some of the most successful individuals will gladly admit that they are only as good as their team. Nobody exemplifies this more than one of my good industry friends, Jennifer Warawa. Jennifer always impresses me when she meets someone for the first time. Instead of introducing herself as VP of Partner Programs and Channel Sales for Sage, she modestly explains that she “looks after the Sage Accountants Network”. I’ve never heard her reference anyone “working for her” – but she’ll often mention those who are “on her team”. Her approach has enabled her to create a real sense of community within her team and within the accounting industry by eliminating any sense of superiority she would have over those of us who don’t have a VP in our title.

It might be the Olympics getting to me, but I might also have teamwork on the brain as I wrap up my first month with my new team at XCM. When you join a new organization, you’re often at the mercy of your new teammates to help you get up to speed and to warn you about the land mines that loom ahead, in hopes that you’ll learn from their mistakes rather than have to make them yourself. I can’t begin to express how blessed I feel to be a part of such an amazing team, who has done just that for me. From my first few days in the office, the sense of teamwork and community at XCM was apparent. When this feeling of community is truly put into action, this will wind up impacting not only an organization itself, but also its extended ecosystem (partners, clients, prospects).

Believe it or not, before the 4” stilettos filled my closet, I used to sport a pair of soccer cleats. In all of my 10 years playing soccer growing up, I was never the most powerful player on the team, but one thing is for sure: I was a team player. One memory that I have all these years later is from an indirect free-kick scenario. While most people want to be the one to take these shots, to be the one to score the goal and get the glory for doing so, I knew that just wasn’t my role on the team. Thankfully, I also knew there is just as much value in being the set up person. So as my teammate lined up to shoot the ball into the goal (unaware that it wasn’t a direct kick, and that two players needed to touch the ball before a goal could be scored), I came running out of the backfield yelling at the top of my lungs. My antics worked. My teammate paused as I ran right up to the ball, tapped it, and yelled to her to shoot it. I turned around just in time to see her put that ball into the top left corner of the net. Of course my teammate got the high-fives for making the score, but I also got recognized for setting it up…after all, without the assist, the goal wouldn’t have counted in the first place.

What’s the big lesson there? As many of us get caught up in climbing the corporate ladder and desperately trying to get ahead, we sometimes lose sight of what really matters – teamwork. Perhaps even more important is the realization that each and every member of a team has a purpose and a value. Sometimes it’s not just the folks on the front line that deserve the recognition, sometimes it’s those in the background, quietly doing their job so well, which in turn makes those of us in the spotlight look even better.

So here’s to the amazing teams behind each leader. The Customer Service Managers who skillfully calm frustrated clients. The Support Reps who graciously answer each & every question from confused new employees. The Development teams who diligently work to add new features. And the most near & dear to my heart, the Managers who stand back and let their apprentices shine…knowing that their success is truly achieved through watching their handy work in action. One, Two, Three – GO TEAM!

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