Power of the Team: Part 5 of the Power Grid Series

It feels fitting that as we all practice social distancing, I write about the fifth power source  power of the team. 

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said this of teamwork: “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team. It takes ten hands to make a basket.” 

The best teams have many different strengths and make use of the different “hands” to get the job done effectively and efficiently. These squads move with precision. They will debate things, fuss and discuss, but once a decision has been made, they move forward as one. No second guessing. No finger pointing. No sideline quarterbacking. No internal politics.  

But what makes a great team? An article in the Harvard Business Review titled “The Secrets of Great Teamwork did a fantastic job of dispelling any myths and getting to the heart of the matter. The foundation of every great team is direction, direction that energizes, orients and engages its team members. Teams can’t be inspired if they don’t know what they are working toward and don’t have explicit goals. These goals need to be challenging but not so difficult that the team becomes dispirited.” 

Martine Haas and Mark Martenson, the writers of the article, add that people have to truly care about achieving the goal. They go on to say that extrinsic and intrinsic awards, ranging from pay and recognition to job satisfaction and a sense of meaning, are central to this I-really-care equation. Good, timely concepts to consider for folks navigating their company during these uncertain times.   

Of course, there are numerous examples of superior teamwork within corporate America. One that stands out for me is Patagonia. As a company, it continues to carve a formidable niche in the high-quality, sustainable apparel industry and remains a monumental player in the environmental stewardship movement  the company’s aim is to make its supply chain carbon neutral by 2025. And they continue to push themselves. Patagonia recently moved into the regenerative agriculture space  now one of the company’s fastest growing divisions. 

They are no doubt an impressive organization, largely due to their ability to get the best out of its people. Dean Carter has led Patagonia’s Human Resources efforts since 2015. When talking about the sense of collaborative spirit instilled in Patagonia, Carter explains in a recent article that “we give people autonomy to do their work. We hire slowly. We hire hard. We look for like-minded and independent-thinking people.” 

Patagonia’s turnover is extremely low for its industry, according to Carter. “It is at 4 to 4.5 percent in corporate. 100 percent of our moms taking maternity leave have returned in our recorded history at Patagonia, which is a ridiculous statistic.”  

Patagonia’s sustained excellence and innovation make it a preeminent business that leverages all the dynamic power sources on the power grid, including the power of the team. True to form, the company uses the energy carefully and wisely. No energy is wasted nor misused. 

The final power source is up next  lore power. Until then, strength for the journey. 

To learn about the other sources of power that successful companies tap into, read Glen’s pieces on brainpower,  horsepower, power of the heart and willpower.