How many of you have played on a team? I, for one, have always played team sports. From Little League baseball to soccer, volleyball, basketball and kickball, I have always played team sports. Last year I took up skiing, which is my first and only solo sport. I enjoy skiing, but even though you are up on the mountain with thousands of people, it feels different than sports where you are truly part of a team. Being part of a team is more than the absence of solitude, or being around other people. True teams that are successful are built by having people on the team who implicitly trust each other. They are comprised of people who “have each other’s back.” They look to the needs of the group before considering their own personal interests, which may or may not align with the needs of the majority.
Growing up in the old days, I enjoyed watching all of the popular 80’s movies. The Terminator. Beverly Hills Cop. Red Dawn (the original one, of course). When I think of teamwork, one movie that comes to mind is The Breakfast Club.
In The Breakfast Club, a group of kids who did not know nor like each other came together to form a group. They had different backgrounds. Their interests were different. They dressed differently than each other. But yet they became one. Remember when they went on their little exploration through the halls of the school, but they were about to be caught outside of the library? The principal was about to catch them but Judd distracted the principal long enough for his fellow team members to make it back to the library safely. He put himself in peril to help others. He risked getting additional Breakfast Club opportunities in order to allow the other students to avoid additional punishment.
In the small development office, the top levels of success will only be achieved when there is a high-performing team dynamic. None of us are superstars and able to succeed totally on our own. Perhaps you have multiple staff in your development office, or maybe you are a solo practitioner. Either way this necessity of “team” exists. In a one-person-show situation, your fellow team members are going to be your Executive Director and Board Chair. Perhaps you have a Development Committee Chair and/or other Board Members who will help. You could have volunteers who help you plan and execute events. It is common to have consultants who help with direct marketing, event planning, grants, etc. Whatever the makeup of your team, the important thing is that you have the right people on it. You will get so much further in your work by having people that you can trust and individuals who prioritize the collective good.
Whether you have the opportunity to build your team or you join a team that is already in place, prioritizing these attributes will help your organization move forward and succeed.
Have a good week and let me know if you hear of any teams looking for members who ski at a beginner level.