Sunday, July 26, 2009

Applauding Teamwork

I read an inspiring story about Jimmy Durante on a tour during World War II. Durante, one of the great entertainers of a generation ago, was asked to be a part of a show for World War II veterans. He told them his schedule was very busy and he could afford only a few minutes, but if they wouldn't mind his doing one short monologue and immediately leaving for his next appointment, he would come.

Of course, the show's director agreed happily. But when Jimmy got on stage, something interesting happened. He went through the short monologue and then stayed. The applause grew louder and louder and he kept staying. Pretty soon, he had been on fifteen, twenty, then thirty minutes. Finally he took a last bow and left the stage. Backstage someone stopped him and said, "I thought you had to go after a few minutes. What happened?"

Jimmy answered, "I did have to go, but I can show you the reason I stayed. You can see for yourself if you'll look down on the front row." In the front row were two men, each of whom had lost an arm in the war. One had lost his right arm and the other had lost his left. Together, they were able to clap, and that's exactly what they were doing, loudly and cheerfully.

Within your organization teamwork plays a vital role. When members work and plan together, success is realized. Babe Ruth once said, “The way the team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” That statement holds true today. How well you work together as a team will make all the difference. So what are team characteristics to look for? Allow me to share a few with you.

First, a team player has the right temperament. A team player has a pleasant combination of what the dictionary defines as, “the combination of mental, physical and emotional traits of a person; natural disposition.”
In other words, the team member blends well with others. He is not concerned about wanting or needing to have his own way. The team player thinks in terms of what is best for the whole team, not just for himself.

Second, a team player sets the right example. A team player models behavior that others should aspire to. Mark Twain once said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” A strong team player will annoy others with a good example.

Third, a team player has the right attitude. There is nothing worse than a tem player with a bad attitude. Your attitude sets the tone for the rest of the team. When you are positive and are speaking positive words, it impacts the whole team for the good. John Maxwell said, “A leader’s attitude is caught by his or her followers more quickly that his or her actions.” A good team player contributes to the team with a good attitude.

Finally, a good team has the right motivation. A strong team player is motivated to perform at his or her very best. A team player is always thinking in terms of how he can become better so that the team performs at optimum levels.

Good teamwork takes commitment from everyone to causes greater than one’s own agenda. It’s recognizing that his or her contributions are part of the big picture. Commit yourself today to being a strong team player, and when you do, watch your team soar.

© 2009 Doug Dickerson

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