Championship Teamwork

One of the keys to creating a culture of exceptional customer service is having a true team. Yet only about 10% of all organizations ever reach the ultimate level of teamwork and cooperation. The Dallas Mavericks are one of those teams! Several years ago, the Mavericks won the NBA Championship. Their performance in the playoffs was a constant display of selfless actions and looking out for fellow teammates.

Despite the obvious bias and wishes of the TV announcers, Dirk and company beat one superstar team after another. No one thought it was possible to beat the Lakers, especially in straight games. Then they extinguished the Heat who had assembled what they thought was an unbeatable team of high priced superstars.

Developing Championship Teamwork

So how did the Mavericks take a team of players from radically different backgrounds, and with what some labeled as “average” talent, and win it all? It was through incredible teamwork. Let’s look at several key factors that contributed to the victory.

  • They spread the load: Even a talented player like Dirk Nowitzki is bound to have an off night. Just when it appeared he was a bit off on his shot, other players like Jason Terry stepped up and had the game of his career. Dirk knew he was off and shifted his game to one of assists and defense, letting his teammates grab the spotlight.
  • They celebrated success: The Mavericks stars, when interviewed by the media following a win, would deflect the credit to other members of their team. I never heard them saying “I did this” or “I did that.” It was always about the team. This was never as obvious as it was when Mark Cuban gave the honor of accepting the trophy to former owner and founder, Don Carter. What a class act!
  • They believed in each other: Unlike some of the other NBA teams who went down in the playoffs, the Mavs are not full of individual egos that were only concerned about their own stats and image. Every member of the Mavericks respected the skill and contribution of each other. They knew how important the players coming off the bench would be to reaching their ultimate goal.
  • They kept focused on a common goal: Even after shocking the sports world and sweeping the defending champion Lakers, the team limited their celebration knowing they were not done yet. The owner and the coaches reminded them that everything they worked for from the preseason to this moment was to win it all. They were focused!

“Collective Will, Collective Grit…”

Rick Carlisle, the coach of the Mavericks, made the following statement in a Sports Illustrated article: “They have made a statement. It’s not about our team but the game. Playing it a certain way. Trusting the pass. Believing in each other. Our team is not about individual ability; it’s about collective will, collective grit.”

Does your team have what it takes to win the “championship” in your industry? It starts with leaders who are willing to serve their employees and communicate a vision for the goal of the team. Next you hire employees who care more about each other than themselves. Finally, put processes in place that encourage teamwork and are flexible enough to allow teammates the freedom and creativity to jump in and assist each other when possible.