I have been thinking about what makes a great team as in the past few weeks several conversations with friends and business associates have gone in this direction. Often in my life if I have a series of causal discussions veering towards a particular theme or topic for no particular reason, I know I am on the verge of making a self discovery. The topic of team work is one such serendipitious moment.
I have great respect for people who can make ordinary teams extraordinary. And often this is highly underrated in an executive’s bio. Surprisingly this trait doesn’t get ratings even in leadership and management skills or behavioral inventory lists.
The manner in which Guus Hiddink has made a success of every coaching assignment led me to ponder deeper. Guus Hiddink took an unknown Korean team to the semi finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup defeating in the process formidable teams like Italy, Poland and Spain before losing to Germany. Just to prove that it was no flash in the pan, he coached Australian soccer team to success in the 2006 world cup and is credited with turning a team into a solid defensive unit which only conceded one goal away from home to both Uruguay and the Netherlands. Well, success with the Russia soccer team followed.
Now more recently, as the caretaker manager of the Chelsea club, he has taken an ordinary bunch of players who were drawing every other match into a winning team and proved to all and sundry that he is an extraordinary coach.
Well, all that I would say is that a very deep understanding of human condition (the good, the bad and the ugly in all of us) to harness the energy and the talents of a team. Money alone will not buy loyalty, commitment, performance and achievement. Singularity of vision, ability to motivate, to energise and the knack of rallying a group of people around a single vision or goal all contribute towards delivering a high performing team. One undoubtedly needs talented individuals within a team, but without inspired leadership a talented team they just become a team with stars.
Not a star team.