In a classic Peanuts cartoon, Lucy walks up to Charlie Brown and says, “I’m going to be a doctor.” Charlie Brown replies, “You can’t be a doctor. You don’t even like the human race.” Lucy retorts, “I love the human race. It’s the people I can’t stand.”
Lucy may be concerned about the deprived in some Third World country or in American pockets of poverty, but she wants to be delivered from having to associate with turkey people day in and day out. Yes, she may love the human race, but the individuals with whom she has to work and associate drive her up a wall.
Through the years, I’ve noticed many corporations, sports teams and other organizations with talented individuals have never become winning groups because they can’t live together, work together or win together. They’re like the committee members who wanted to plan a New Year’s Eve party but couldn’t agree on a date.
A while back, I was presenting an after-breakfast talk to a group of association executives. Sitting at a table with several of the participants before I arose to speak, I couldn’t help but notice one woman who was very attractive, well-dressed and apparently extremely intelligent. I also noticed, however, that the other people at the table just didn’t seem to let her into the group. There was something about her – I didn’t really know what – that seemed to turn me off also.
Following my presentation, I stayed around to talk with some of the executives. The woman who had been sitting at my table exchanged a few comments with me, expressed how much she enjoyed and appreciated my A Strategy For Winning program, and then excused herself. As she walked away, a man standing with me shook his head and said, “I sure hope she really listened to what you said today when you talked about the characteristics of effective leaders and how to reach excellence through other people.” I looked at the man but didn’t say anything. With my facial expression, though, I indicated, “Please continue.”
“She’s sharp,” he did continue, “and very perceptive about most things. But when it comes to working with people…” He cut himself off and shook his head again before adding, “It seems like she knows she’s sharp, and she lets others know that she knows.” The bottom line is that the woman is a superstar, but not a team player. She can get a lot from herself, but she can’t seem to get much out of other people.
When serving as board chairman of Inland Steel Company, Clarence B. Randall said: “Leadership, like everything else in life that is vital, finds its source in understanding. To be worthy of management responsibility, you must have insight into the human heart. Unless you have an awareness of human problems, a sensitivity toward the hopes and aspirations of those you supervise, and a capacity for analysis of the emotional forces that motivate their conduct, the projects entrusted to you will not get ahead – no matter how often wages are raised.”
We must never lose sight of the fact that people are the principal asset of any business group, sports team or other organization. Nothing moves until people make it move. In any endeavor, more teams beat themselves than are defeated by outside forces. More games are lost than won. When members don’t gel, bad things happen, regardless of the inherent individual abilities. John D. Rockefeller claimed, “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.”
The wisdom of Ecclesiastes is powerful and the lesson on teamwork is simple: “One standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Working together willingly for a common purpose can lead to the accomplishment of seemingly impossible tasks.
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at 865-436-7478 or email@example.com. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on www.carlmays.com and Amazon.com.
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