Game On: Winning in Business is a Team Sport
Game On: Winning in Business is a Team Sport
By Nicole Valentine, Esq.
Successful entrepreneurs do one thing better than their less successful peers. They build effective and loyal teams.
One of my earliest memories of being on a team was at age 9. I joined the Franklin Township Little League and played softball with and against the best girls in New Jersey. I like to play First Base and Catcher. In all sports and in this one, to be a Starter in your position, you must “Try Out” for it. So every year, several players battled it out to get the starting spot in their preferred position. During tryouts, I played the Catcher’s position well. Our coach explained that the Catcher is the leader of the team. The Catcher and Pitcher are the only two players in contact with the ball on every play. And the Catcher is the only player who can see the entire field from the vantage point of the Batter. The Catcher calls plays, stops runners from advancing to the next base and protects home plate. I was intrigued with this Catcher’s position. So, I went for it. And got it.
Over the next 5 years, I had a front seat in understanding the Catcher’s position. And I learned key lessons in leadership that remain with me now as an Entrepreneur. First, being the Catcher is a dirty job. I spent most of the games in the mud and dirt. I became one with the ground. I remained in a permanent squat so the woman at bat didn’t knock my head off. And if I ever needed to throw off my mask to make a catch at home plate – (oh! that beautiful piece of equipment that kept me safe) – once I put it back on, the sand and dirt were bound to make an appearance on my face, in my mouth and occasionally in my eyes. Second, being the Catcher is a role for someone with a voice. If a player was taking a snooze in right field and the woman at bat was eyeing that corner, I told everyone to “Look Alive, the ball may be coming your way”. The Catcher is also stealth in communications, giving special signals to the outfield for them to either move in closer to the infield or move back depending on the Batter’s tendencies. Third, the Catcher makes sacrifices. As the Catcher, I sacrificed myself to protect home plate. If a runner was barreling in to the plate and I was in possession of the ball, it was my job to make sure I tagged, tackled and threw my entire body at the runner before they made it home. And Last, the Catcher is the motivator. There were plenty of times when our team was discouraged by the bad calls of the Umpires. As the Catcher, I was also counting the strikes, balls and outs and letting the team know that we still had a chance.
Entrepreneurs remind me of Catchers. We are rolling up our sleeves to do the not so glamorous work to win on the field of business and philanthropy. Our very journeys are inspiring others to see opportunities for the future. But most people who know me, know that I want entrepreneurs not only to win at inspiring others but also to win in matters relating to the balance sheet. How do we grow exponentially? How do we profit more so we can give more? How do we go to higher levels and compete in more competitive markets?
My Answer: Team Up!
In mature businesses, there are many kinds of teams and layers to teams. The employees execute and innovate in line with the company’s mission and vision. The outside experts solve complex problems from a different vantage point. The investors provide resources and funds to capitalize the business for operations and growth. The C-Suite managers serve as central command, setting the course for the company’s future growth and profitability.
As Entrepreneurs grow from a team of One to a team of More, let’s be inspired by the winning plays in sports and apply them to our own team building strategies.
Entrepreneurs can learn from:
1. The National Football League: Teams should be split into offensive and defensive roles. The offensive team is focused on advancing through growth and expansion. The defensive team is focused on protecting the innovation and making the competition irrelevant.
2. The Women’s National Basketball Association: Teams should spend time together and practice often. This practice will pay off in the big game as your team will really know each other and be able to communicate verbally and non-verbally to make strategic decisions.
3. Major League Baseball: All Team members should know their position and play it to the best of their ability. Make sure your team has a coach to offer best practices that improve the level of play.
4. The National Hockey League: Team members should be loyal to each other. You may have your differences behind the scenes, but when it’s Game Time, you must show up for each other, especially if the other team is trying to knock your teammate into the wall!
5. Women’s Tennis Association: Teams can be lean. A team of two can be a powerful force – think Serena and Venus. You can do a lot in a pair and should not be intimidated by large teams. If your team is effective and winning, you are doing something right.
In the spirit of team, Get Your Game On.
Nicole Valentine, Esq. is the Founder and President of Synergy Business Development, Inc., a Strategic Consulting Firm focused on growing businesses through partnerships, mergers, acquisitions and global and national expansions.
More about her company can be found at www.synergybusinessonline.com. She is a Quarterback for Entrepreneurs and based in New York.