The Power of an All-Star Team
The National Basketball Association (NBA) hosted its annual All-Star game February 19th in New Orleans, LA. All-Star weekend is packed with exciting pre-game activities, entertaining and thrilling fans – from the skills challenge to the dunk contest to the celebrity exhibition game.
But in the main event – the league's star players from the Eastern Conference are pitted against players from the Western Conference. The starting lineup for each team is selected by fan’s votes, while the reserves are chosen by a vote among the head coaches from each respective conference. The head coach of the team with the best record in each conference is chosen to lead their respective conference in the All-Star Game, with a prohibition against repeat appearances.
As a viewer and a fan, this event excites me. As a communicator and marketer, All-Star weekend holds truths and revelations necessary to form a high-performing, show-stopping team that many “business people” might overlook.
In my experience - and I’ve been lucky enough to be on more than one all-star team – there are three components required to create loyal, raving fans: talent, personality, and drive.
Each player selected to participate in the All-Star game has talent, but those talents are not innate nor are they all the same. In his book The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the value of practice on the way to prodigious achievement. Gladwell postulates that a person spends an average of 10,000 hours practicing an art on their way to becoming a virtuoso. That’s not to say that the only all-stars are those who have practiced their “thing” for years, but more to point out that no one simply wakes up to excellence. Excellence is developed.
A team of players or professionals who are all talented in the same area will leave gaping holes in others. In basketball, this is especially true as all players must play both defense and offense. Carefully piecing a team together from individual high performers isn’t just about focusing on tactical skills either. A super innovator or salesperson won’t get very far if they can’t get along, which leads to the next factor – personality. While fans may marvel at a talented player, they will pledge their loyalty to a player with the right personality.
EQ or emotional intelligence is a definite competitive advantage for players and professionals. The capacity to be aware of, control and express one's emotions, as well as handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically defines an emotionally intelligent person. On the court, this can mean encouraging a player who is struggling or steeling oneself against fear or intimidation from an opponent. In the conference room, a team of individuals with a high EQ will be able to support and encourage each other, step up when needed and understand client needs more thoroughly. These are the people who create fans.
Talent and emotional intelligence won’t be enough to get great teams through all the challenges they will face on their way to the glory of a championship. On the court, injuries or missed opportunities can lower morale. In cubicle land, a poor review, an un-adopted idea or feelings of frustration can derail the best of teams. The final piece necessary to keep these teams on track is drive – an unquenchable desire to achieve a goal or reach a destination. Only this kind of drive will provide top performers with the “stuff” it takes to unrelentingly power through challenges.
Fans and clients complete the necessary elements for an all-star team. While there is satisfaction in a job well done, humans need to be wanted, needed and recognized as valuable. A top performer will find it very difficult to continue to perform for an empty room, an unresponsive audience or a team that never lets them shine. Raving, rabid fans are attracted by talent, endeared by personality and create the glue that holds all-star teams together.
All-star teams are poetry in motion. The right balance of talent (the practice of differentiated skills), personality (emotional intelligence) and drive (unquenchable hunger) will compel loyal fans to follow, celebrate and honor the incredible work (on the court or in the conference room) all-star teams achieve.
If you would like to hear from Rachel Butts more on employee journey, tune into the featured topic segment of CMS-Connected Show aired on April 29th as she discussed the building blocks of a successful employee journey with analysts Scott Liewehr, Founder and CEO of Digital Clarity Group and Jeff Willinger, Director of Collaboration, Social Business and Intranets at Rightpoint.