MIAMI, FL / ACCESSWIRE / July 20, 2021 / This summer is set to bear witness to some of the most exciting sporting events in the past decade. Throughout history, sports have brought people together, be it in the stands, on the field, or on the court. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, team sports and spectator events came to a screeching halt. Now, as the vaccine is becoming more widely available around the world, professional sports teams and their fans are corralling in stadiums once again to see their favorite athletes back in action.
Jozef 'Jos' Opdeweegh, a multinational C-suite executive with over 20 years of experience developing, leading, and growing public and private global companies, is a self-proclaimed sports fanatic. Having spent much of his childhood and adult life enjoying sports like soccer and tennis (among many others), Jozef has developed a passion and respect for sports that transcends the ability to teach us coordination and physical endurance. In conversations with Jozef Opdeweegh, we learned that there are in fact, many lessons to be learned from sports which can be useful in our careers and in life in general.
'I've been thinking a lot about teamwork and collaboration recently,' begins Jozef Opdeweegh. 'In part, this is triggered by our coming out of isolation after more than a year of limited contact with friends and colleagues. I certainly won't be alone in reading reports that employees are feeling more isolated than ever, raising concerns that the pandemic may have impacted our ability to effectively collaborate and even buy into unified brand identities.'
But it's also because this summer, we've started once again to enjoy and be inspired by some incredible sports accomplishments that are the epitome of team commitment. The scenes at the end of the recent European and Copa América football tournaments bear witness to the passion and commitment of collective endeavor. Meanwhile, the Tour de France is in full flow; Wimbledon has just completed; the Olympics are imminent. All of the athletes work with teams of coaches, physios, psychologists, strategists. Even the setup for these events has required a degree of planning and forethought that previous organizers wouldn't have dreamed of considering - teamwork of a different sort.
'Sport reminds us that successfully harnessing talented individuals into a group with a unified objective creates something that's even greater than the sum of its individual parts,' explains Jozef Opdeweegh. 'As we look ahead to the Olympics, we'll see the greatest individual athletes working together, supporting each other in representing their countries in pursuit of the highest accolades in their athletic careers.'
Below are Jozef Opdeweegh's top three lessons on teamwork to extract from summer sport.
1. Encourage Others to Take Risks
Perhaps the most important area where effective teamwork can support our growth is by giving us the opportunity and courage to take risks. Research shows that many employees working in isolation tend to opt for safer options. They do this for a variety of reasons. They might be worried about stretching themselves or have concerns that by asking too many questions to a remote forum they seem incompetent. While these may be understandable reservations, the point is that left alone and without wider team encouragement, levels of confidence and innovation are likely to suffer.
In comparison, being a part of a supportive team is a demonstrable way to nudge your colleagues into taking calculated risks and develop their thinking in new directions. It's an experience we've all been through. Who hasn't gone to a brainstorming session with just one or two thoughts that don't feel particularly strong, only to leave with a list of tens of solid ideas thanks to the power of the group bouncing ideas off of each other? When you build a team filled with the right people, you're directly supporting an environment that helps each of them think and act with greater confidence.
For elite-level athletes, this is hardly a new concept. I look to sports such as basketball, where individual athletes can alternate between having strong or weak games on a nightly basis. Whenever a player is having a particularly good game, it's the job of the team members to embolden this player to take more control. By passing to them, keep defenders at bay, and showing their trust, the surrounding team helps great players win them the game. Great comebacks, inspired plays, and high-pressure ‘clutch' shots all require the star players to trust their talents-and the best way to help them is ensuring they're surrounded by a supportive cast that's fully behind the plays and risks they need to take.
2. Collective Problem-Solving and achievement
It's surely no surprise that companies with a poor level of team connectivity-especially at the highest levels-find themselves stuck in a rut, unable to grow or refocus their organization on new goals.
A supportive team dynamic is a critical tool in organizational problem-solving. When only one person works on an issue, they're bringing only their experience and knowledge to the table, whereas teams can leverage collective wisdom to share ideas stemming from many unique and valuable skills.
The added benefit of high-level team collaboration is that these sessions allow individuals to develop a mutually agreed quality assurance for ideas - a common understanding, if you like, of what constitutes quality. Many heads working together to solve a problem build exponentially on the ideas generated while simultaneously removing the weaker parts and making proposals more relevant and specific.
And we see the same in sport, with collaboration and problem-solving at play, both in advance (through strategy and tactics) and live on the field of play. Of course, there is a role for occasional individual brilliance, but any sports fan knows the foundational importance of passing, encouragement, collective determination, and support - every member plays a role and without it, the team is lost. I was struck last week by Mark Cavendish, who when interviewed at the Tour de France after equalling Eddy Merckx record of 34 stage wins, immediately praised his team, recognizing that his victories were only possible because of their sacrifices.
3. Feelings of Belonging - modesty and helping others
The modesty of Mark Cavendish reinforces the sense of belonging a team can engender and the confidence this brings to both individuals and organizations as a whole. Being part of a team that supports you when you're down as well as when you're up, gives us the belief that we are a part of something more than our individual contribution. And it's this collective endeavor that drives discretionary effort, which motivates us to help others, promotes our virtues and better sides… and ultimately helps us accomplish extraordinary things.
Everyone wants to feel like they are on a winning team, but the reality of our lives is that none of us can win all the time. The real challenge is how we bounce back from our setbacks and get up to try again. Teams are there to provide emotional and physical resilience founded on strong relationships, trust, and interdependency. Success can never be guaranteed, but our chances of achieving our goals are so much greater when we pull together than when we work apart.
I do not doubt that we'll see this in abundance at the Olympics in Tokyo. From running to rowing, swimming to shooting, we'll witness individuals and teams helping each other, cheering their successes, and commiserating when colleagues fall short. This is what we need in our organizations too, and I hope this summer of sport is an inspiration to us all as we begin to get back together after so long a time apart.
SOURCE: Cambridge Global
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