My main sport has always been softball, and I love watching it and still enjoy playing to this day. Team sports were a wonderful influence on my life growing up. They taught me how to have resilience and rely on the energy of the team. As a Project Manager, I often use the skills I learned from being captain of my high school and college teams for perspective. Here are a few bullet points that I think relate the ball field to real life work with teams.
1. What am I going to do when the ball comes to me?
My little league coach chanted that to us so many years ago, when he wanted us to play better defense. It helped keep our heads in the game when in the field. Show up and be prepared. You fundamentally already know how to make the play through practice, but you need to be decisive and know your next move. At work, you may already be an expert in your field, but you must know when to apply certain practices in response to the circumstance.
2. Meet your cut-off.
Sure, you really think you can make the throw home, but it's close. Sometimes you need to rely on your teammate to communicate what the right thing to do is in a flash.
Trust your teammates; you are in this together!
3. When you're down by a lot, keep talking and come together.
Whether you play sports yourself, or are bound to the little league or lacrosse field of your child, you know how important it is to rally when you are down. Perhaps the most quoted sports personality of all, Yogi Beara did accurately and simplistically say, "It ain't over 'til it's over". This concept runs so much deeper, but that's a different blog post for a different day. Whether we are talking about life or work, giving up is not an option.
4. When your teammate is having a bad game, it's your job to motivate her.
Yes, as trite as it is, I am going to say it, there just is no "I" in team. When one teammate is down, you all are down. Get the job done. Together.
5. Play to win. But when you lose, keep your head up.
Even the Patriots lose some times. When things don't go as planned, whether a presentation was not received well or an unforeseen circumstance happens, you must keep it together, learn from it and work on improving for next time.
Make a habit of talking about lessons learned after every win or loss. There is always room to improve.
Rally. Keep each other engaged. Attitude is everything!
In my years as an Executive Assistant (EA), I never really had the opportunity to work on a team, but I craved it. As an EA to c-level executives, you and the leader you support are the team, and being unified and in sync is critical to the success of the executive. Obviously, this is a skewed team, because an EA must go the distance to assure synergy. That is what he/she is paid to do. Executives need that. When I changed careers to work as a Project Manager, I quickly learned how much my roots of being a team player made me thrive in the role. Much like when playing on a sports team, when working on a project, everyone has a part to play. The PM is like the team Captain, guiding the Subject Matter Experts; communicating and bridging the gaps to all involved. You may have hired the best squad around, but if they don't know how to work together, it's a real problem. A project is not successful if everyone doesn't do what is expected. The Project Manager helps drive the work, but there is no project without the whole team working together.
What else about playing on a team applies to what you do for work? Please comment below to share what you think!
Julie Silvia, Founder of Sea Level Solutions has 15 years of experience in supporting c-level executives in the project management and administrative support capacity in healthcare, construction and high tech industries. Learn more about how Sea Level Solutions could help your company by visiting https://www.slevelsolutions.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org