How it feels to be on a great (and effective) team

After the Patriots AFC championship win, fans were praising Tom Brady for the team’s continued success. Although Brady has led the Patriots to many championship games, coach Bill Belichick reminded fans that football is a team effort, and Brady would not have the success he has had without his teammates. In a post-game interview, Belichick said: “Tom Brady can’t win a game alone.”

And after Sunday’s Super Bowl win, those words couldn’t be any truer. Each player gave it their ‘all’ right until the end. They were down but not out. Apparently, during the halftime break, Brady told his team to “Do your job. Finish.” And that they did… together. As a team.

What I’ve noticed, watching clips and interviews and highlights, that beyond the ceremony and praise, was the feeling of pure joy, even ecstasy, on the faces of the players and coaches. Clearly, the Patriots represent the success that comes from effective teamwork. A collaboration of people working together to achieve a common goal. The amazing thing about teamwork is that it not only applies to sports teams, it is also critical to success in the workplace. That feeling of elation that comes from successful teamwork is something we should all aim to create.

When employees come together in a synergistic way, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. But to create that synergy requires not only a common goal, but also a clear understanding of your role on the team, a shared set of values, and an unwavering commitment by all to work hard to achieve the mission. When the needs of the team rise above those of the individual, there’s the potential for (and the feeling of) greatness. But, there’s more to it than that.

 “You have to believe in the things that you are doing to help the team win. I think you have to take the good with the bad.” – Tom Brady

For a team to become consistently great, there is a mutual understanding of the strengths and limitations of each member. This requires sharing, which is often accompanied by laughing, and yes, even crying. When a project flexes or hits a speed bump, the team inherently knows who to leverage to respond. How the team recognizes these moments and works together (rapidly if possible) under stress is ultimately a key determinant of its ability to succeed. This dynamic requires each team member to feel that they are operating in a safe, open, and honest environment. One where they are embraced not only for their skills but also for their idiosyncrasies, one free from worry and full of confidence.

“We all brought each other back,” said Brady. “We never felt out of it.”

This collective feeling of individual value is what ensures the cohesive contribution to the end-result. Great teams always have each other’s back. They know how to celebrate achievements together, and they know how to pick each other up after a setback.

“They have a great attitude about teamwork, playing unselfishly, and working unselfishly. Really doesn’t feel like work.” – Bill Belichick

I have been fortunate to be on some great teams, on the field and in the workplace, and there is no better experience. A great team feels like a family. You give a lot to and for each other and create connections that build a sense of “we-ness.” Being on a great team helps you to feel confident and proud. This, in turn, helps you to take more risks because you know you are encouraged and supported. You’re motivated to work harder and to be your best, because you care and truly want the team to succeed. And there’s no better feeling than that.