If we learned anything from the last edition of the Olympic games, it’s that unity is strength. This phrase is perhaps a cliché for many, but that does not make it any less true.
It is no coincidence that the same teams end up taking home the most medals almost every time. The US team, for example, is clear on this: the goal is to win, and to achieve this, the team should work like a well-oiled machine. Yes, there are stars, as in everything: Phelps, Ledecky or Gabby Douglas.
We are talking about high-performance athletes that inspire not only the fans, but also their teammates. However, they are not enough by themselves; they know it, and their teammates know it too. Without Dressel, Held or Adrian, Phelps could not have won his gold medal in the relays.
It wouldn’t have mattered that Douglas got the highest score in her routines if the rest of her team had not been at the same level in their performance. And this does not depend on the athletes by themselves; coaches, teachers, doctors, they all work and do their part as best they can so that athletes can get on the podium.
What is the difference between a team that delivers results and one that does not?
It is not enough to want the medal; you have to work for it and enjoy the ride, otherwise, it is an empty goal. The same thing happens in sales teams: it is useless to have one or two stars, the whole team must work the same.
And how can you inspire the team? By emulating the work of athletes and applying these four principles:
Promote teamwork attitude.
This is not about denying the capabilities of each individual, quite the opposite: we must exploit the capabilities of each of its members, while emphasizing that their differences are what help them complement each other. They are all unique and, therefore, necessary. Each one has a different role and responsibility, without which the rest of the team cannot function. So no one has to compete with another, they all accompany each other in the process.
Remove the egos.
Feeding individual egos serves no one, it creates divisions and ends up creating problems among team members. On the contrary, by having a team mentality, members leave pride aside and adopt an attitude of helping and servicing their teammates. They become inspirational figures.
When the team understands where it should go, when it is clear on this matter, the obstacles that stand in its way are overcome faster. For this, we have to set two types of goals: several small short-term goals aimed at a more ambitious long-term goal. This prevents the team from feeling overwhelmed and seeing the goal as something distant and impossible. Having clear, tangible goals increases the team members’ confidence, and gives them the confidence to accept subsequent challenges.
This is a key point. In order for the team to work perfectly, communication channels must be open in both directions: managers can not become the despot and unattainable figure that the rest of the team is afraid to talk to, but rather listen to comments and suggestions from all members of their team, in order to see any areas of opportunity and growth they may be missing and that their teams may have discovered by adopting a different point of view.
In short, it is important for individuals in each team to know that, although they have a specific function, they are part of a whole, and they should go from “I” to “We”, and discover that when everyone does their job, everyone wins.
Motivation and loyalty programs are one of the tools discovered by companies to effectively and immediately achieve that goal. It is no coincidence, for example, that the creator of one of the most important employee incentive tools is a former Olympic athlete. Andres Vera Llorens, Co-CEO of ThinkSmart, served during the 80s as an athlete for the 800 and 1500 meter races, and participated in the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984. Vera Llorens has managed to shift this mindset of commitment, discipline and motivation to programs that help companies improve the performance of their work teams. These programs praise individual successes without underestimating the work of others. Those that are lagging behind don’t fear the wrath of the team, but rather feel the confidence to go to their colleagues and ask for help, advice and guidance to have tangible results, and eventually be the ones who inspire others and — who knows? — even lead them in the future.