Winning Is a Team Sport

document-3268750_640Last Friday night the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, completing a four game sweep and winning the NBA title. While most of the conversation surrounding this series focused on Lebron James and the herculean effort he put forth to give his Ohio team a fighting chance, it was the well-rounded team play of the Warriors that one the day. They were simply too much for one man to handle – even if that man is Lebron James.

Speaking to reporters, Finals MVP Kevin Durant shared that he found it very difficult to be considered an MVP when he is surrounded by so many great teammates.  He said “I feel like it’s easy to be the best player when you don’t have good players around you. I feel like it’s harder to stand out when you have great players around you.”

What Durant and the rest of the Warriors understand is that great players don’t win championships. Great teams do.

It doesn’t matter how much time, and effort, and passion, you put into your job. If those around you aren’t just as committed you won’t win. You simply can’t do it alone. The more Lebron James has to carry the rest of the team, the more he stands out. And the more likely the team is to lose. You may be the best employee the organization has ever seen. You may be the top performer by a wide margin. But if your teammates aren’t pulling their weight, you will not succeed.

That’s why so many top performers leave their organizations. When you want to win, you want to be around others who feel the same way. If teammates are content to give minimum effort, then winners start to stand out – and they start to lose. It’s emotionally taxing to give 110% day after day while those around you choose to coast.

Are you a champion? Are you a member of a team that’s so strong, it’s hard to pick out an MVP? Are you surrounded by individuals who desire to win just as strongly as you do and put forth the effort to prove it?

Or are you watching your team’s best player give their heart and soul to a game you have no interest in playing? Are you coasting along, enduring the occasional criticism of your performance so that you can go back to sleepwalking your way to the next paycheck? Are you content with watching from the bench while others succeed?

Managers, ultimately this message is for you. Because as leaders, it’s our responsibility to create championship teams. Are we ok with second place, the middle of the pack, or even rock bottom? Do we have team members who are content? I hope not.

We’re quickly approaching the mid-point of another year. Will this be another championship year for you, or another disappointment? There’s still time to crush your goals. There’s still a chance to win.

Embrace excellence. Imagine your team in the winner’s circle. See your coworkers hoisting the trophy. Hear the applause of the crowd and feel the rush that comes from being part of a championship effort.

There’s a game to win and it’s going on right now. Want to play?