Raising the level of your leadership

Toxic Locker Rooms

The New York Jets started the 2011 season with high expectations. Their legendary hero, Joe Namath, described the 2011 team as “one of the best we’ve ever seen.” He should have hedged his bet because the Jets finished out of the playoffs with a mediocre 8-8 record, collapsing as the season wound down by losing their last three games. What happened? They were a collection of players, but not a team.

GM Mike Tannenbaum said, “Chemistry was certainly a factor this year.” Future Hall Of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson said the locker room was “as bad as any I’ve ever been around.” Others commented that the team, oops, collection of players had some “extremely selfish individuals” and described one player as “lazy and content.”

“Team” is an overused word. Just because a group of people has been pulled together with a common goal doesn’t make it a team.

The first stage of a team is respect for the ability and competence of the other team members. If you don’t believe your teammates “have what it takes,” molding them into a team is going to be impossible.

The second stage of a team is confidence that everyone is actually going to do their job. When the game starts, everyone will step up and get it done.

The third stage of a team is trust that when the going gets tough, teammates won’t undermine each other and will put team interest above self-interests.

The final stage of a team is camaraderie. Respect, confidence and trust have created an environment in which the players have fun working together and care about each other.

If you are the leader, it is your job to mold your collection of followers into a team. It won’t happen just because you all share the same locker room…or office suite…or worship venue. And by the way, “talking out of school” about team problems is not a good thing, but silence about team problems doesn’t fix them. The real problem is lack of respect…or confidence…or trust. Fix that and you won’t have to worry about “talking out of school.”

© Copyright 2012 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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