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The Power of Teamwork

I don’t watch NBA basketball in during the regular season. Probably haven’t watched many regular season NBA games since the Michael Jordan years.  When it comes to post-season games that will determine who will play in the NBA finals – I’m a junkie.

The semi-finals this year pits the Houston Rockets vs the Golden State Warriors as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers playing against the Boston Celtics. The winners of those two series will play for the NBA Championship. By that time, I’ll know most of the players on both teams.

Game One – Rockets vs. Warriors. Superstar James Harden of the Rockets lights it up for 41 points.  Wow – what a performance.  The bad thing is that the Rockets lost that game 119 – 106.

Game One – Celtics vs. Cavs.  LeBron James, considered by some as the best basketball player ever, has a triple double:  42 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.  The Cavs lost 107 – 94.  (By the way, I know that Jordan was better!)

How can this happen? How can the teams who have great players, like Harden and LeBron who were the high scorers of those games, lose?

If you saw either of the games, you know this is an easy question – the team that won had the best teamwork. The halftime announcers, who were NBA stars, saw it and talked about it. At halftime, they could see how each of the eventual winning teams worked better together. Those two teams might not have had the highest scorer on the floor that night but they, easily, had the ballplayers who worked better together.

This is a Leadership lesson for each of our businesses, isn’t it?

We need to look at the teamwork our business have or don’t have. What kind of relationship does the person who answers the phone have with the technicians that do the work? Do those technicians look at those people on the phone as people who are making their days long and miserable or as people who are doing a great job taking care of customers?

Do those people look at you as someone who is trying to get rich at their expense – or a great coach who is providing great opportunities for everyone on the team?

Do they understand that you have most of everything you own on the line to pursue the American Dream of business ownership?  Do they know how hard you’ve worked over the years so you can provide opportunities for/with others?

I was reminded of the importance of teamwork while watching golf’s Players Championship a week ago. I don’t remember who the golfer was or the caddie. At the last second the caddie walked up to the golfer with a different club than the pro had in his hand. The pro listened to his caddie, hit the ball with that club instead of the club he was holding, and watched his ball land in the center of the green. The ball didn’t go in the water in front of the green, in the sand on the side of the green or the high grass behind the green. I remember thinking to myself that the pro is worth mega-millions. The caddie was relatively unknown. Yet, the teamwork was unmistakable.

Teamwork.

It happens with parents raising kids, it happens in sports and it happens in business. We simply need to make sure, as leaders that it happens in our organizations.

Leadership Thoughts for Mother’s Day

Leaders appreciate Mother’s Day. All can give examples of a woman who inspired them.

I was reminded of this while traipsing around Washington, D.C., last week getting inspired by “Lincoln stuff.” Two women really inspired him–neither one was his wife. His mom died when Lincoln was 9 years old from drinking milk tainted with poisonous white snakeroot. His father later married a widow who was the person who molded Lincoln into the man and leader he became. Later in life he told a relative that she was his best friend and that no son could love a mother more than he loved her.

Before the Civil War Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs.” Her goal was to help teach women how to properly care for their children. After Lincoln’s death these work clubs helped soldiers from the North and the South get over their differences and mend the nation.

After Jarvis died her daughter, Anna, sought help from a Philadelphia department store owner, John Wanamaker, to help her. Anna’s goal was to have an official Mother’s Day celebration.  This happened in May of 1908 at all of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philly.

Anna, who never married or had children, started an amazing letter writing campaign to newspapers and politicians to spread this celebration. She established the Mother’s Day International Association. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made it official–Mother’s Day would be celebrated the second Sunday in May.

Although Mary Kay never had children of her own I’ve seen the love she shows my children – while never competing for the love my children have for their mother. When we got married she instantly was a grandmother of three. That has now grown to nine grandkids and those grandchildren are blessed with more than one grandmother who loves them.

Mother’s Day, as exemplified by Lincoln, isn’t just about blood relatives. Think about the women who have influenced you. One of my first memories is of my first-grade teacher – Mrs. Wisch. She must have been in her 60’s when I was in her class in 1960. Thinking back, though, it might have just been her 40’s. Everyone looks old when you are six!

Dina Dwyer-Owens, co-chair of my parent company, The Dwyer Group, has inspired thousands of people around the world through her leadership in franchising.

Look at Mother Theresa. No one’s birth mother but everyone’s mother by love and the people she touched throughout the world by her kindness and spiritual leadership.

This is a great time to show your appreciation to the great women in your life. Happy Mother’s Day.