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The 2012 Olympics showed the winning and teamwork mentality

July 2012

As we wait for another four years until the next Olympics, it is important to look at why some nations collected more medals than others. The answer lies in hard work at training and teamwork. Employees and employers should emulate the spirit of the Olympics, Coaches, like human resources specialists, like to relate some facts about teamwork by using the geese’s daily behaviour.

For example, Darrel Sifford, the late veteran columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, once related these facts about geese.

They said the geese have figured out some keys to corporate culture of teamwork that many struggle to learn and adjust to:

“As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an updraft for the bird flying behind. By flying in "V" formation, a flock adds to the range of any one bird alone,” Sifford wrote.

“Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag of going it alone and quickly returns to its place. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another flies at the point position.

“The geese in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. When a goose is sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it.

“They stay until the sick member of the flock is able to fly again, or dies. Then they launch out on their own, joining another formation or catching up with their own,” Sifford added.

These goose behaviours tells us that an explicit, unifying mission creates organisational leverage and builds momentum through a sense of shared vision, teamwork, and ultimately reward and satisfaction in today’s competitive business world.

The 2012 Olympics showed the winning teamwork mentality countries needed to win medals.
What is teamwork? It's working together toward a common goal or vision. It's the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward managerial objectives, and the fuel that enables common people to realise common benefits. Even if we're not organised into formal teams like the Olympians did, we still have buddies who get together to help us. No one does anything without assistance.

Teamwork is a way of mastering responsibility. When you take on a function, whether as an athlete or employee, boss, manager or CEO, you are accountable for finishing it, as part of an overall process.

Here are a few steps organisations, employers and employees can take to strengthen their teams and improve productivity just as the Chinese, Americans and British prepared their Olympics teams to win gold medals.

  • Set clear goals and expectations of the team so that every member of the team understands the goals.
  • Executives should model teamwork in their interactions with each other. Leaders must be enthusiastic about their job. If a leader is upbeat, so will the employees.
  • Establish a Common Goal. The value of a teamwork culture should be emphasized. Get employees to buy into an assigned project or mission. Clearly explain your expectations to team members and
  • Teamwork should be rewarded and recognized as it was recognized at the 2012 Olympics.

True Olympic greats reached the top of their sports by refusing to settle for anything less than being the best. So should employees.

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