Basketball is a strong link game—teams can be built around the star player. Soccer is a weak link game—teams need qualified players in all positions in order to be successful. So what does this concept teach us about building our own teams and cultures?
Learn from soccer coach Tracy Nelson, Portland Thorns Academy Director, as she explains that building a winning soccer team requires not only skill, but chemistry, character and culture. You can’t just pick a star player and jeopardize the culture if they break apart the entire team. A successful team leverages individual strengths—and aligned towards a shared goal, they can win. You can apply these same principles to build stronger teams that deliver better results.
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Daniel Harkavy (00:00):
In their book, the numbers game, Chris Anderson and David Salley popularized the concept of strong link and weak link games. In the simplest terms, they defined a strong link game as one, where the team with the best player usually wins. For example, basketball is a strong link game. There are few players on the court at one time. And if a team wants to get the ball into the hands of its best player, it can consistently do so. And it’s no surprise. The NBA teams with star players are almost always the ones making deep playoff runs on the other hand, soccer or football. As most of the world calls. It is a weak link game in weak link games. The team with out the worst player usually wins. Soccer is a low scoring game. So mistakes are amplified and can carry a larger cost and you can have the best striker in the sport.
Daniel Harkavy (00:59):
But if your midline is weak and can’t advance the ball, other teams can keep that player from ever touching the ball to build a winning team in a strong link game. It’s advantageous to sign the best player and to fill in around that person. Even if there is less resource available to build out the rest of your roster, whereas in a weak link game, you would be better served, bypassing the star power and investing in depth, prioritizing the quality of the entire team rather than one person or position. So it’s got me thinking our businesses and teams today, more like basketball or soccer and as leaders, what can we apply from this concept of strong link and weak link games to the way we think about superstars and developing a winning culture. I’m Daniel Harkavy and this is the building champions podcast for the past 25 plus years. I and my team that building champions have been helping top business leaders to improve the way they live and lead. Our goal for this podcast is to share stories and insights that will help you to become an even better leader. And in this episode, we’ll head to the pitch to learn what soccer and weak link games can teach us about creating great teams.
Tracy Nelson (02:32):
I personally have been on teams, played on teams. I’ve coached teams where you have that positive team dynamic, where it is all about the team. And I’ve also been involved with teams where we didn’t have that. And it was more about the individual player and you know, what am I getting out of it what’s in the best interest for me, I’m the best player.
That’s Tracy Nelson.
I am currently coaching for the Portland Thorns Academy. I’ve been doing that for the past four years. I’ve been involved in coaching soccer for 20 plus years. And I also was a player at the University of Portland back in the nineties with the legendary coach Clive Charles. And then I also played overseas in Sweden, as well as England and had a few years stint with the youth national teams.
Daniel Harkavy (03:28):
One of the problems with strong link games if taken too far is that they can prioritize individual players, your stars at the expense of building a cohesive unified team left unchecked, or even encouraged their need for individual accomplishments and accolades comes with a real cost.
Tracy Nelson (03:49):
Definitely in terms of where I’ve seen success is when you have your team bought into the philosophy that no one is greater than somebody else. And we are all part of the success of the team, whether I start, whether I come off the bench, whether I’m the best goal score, whether I’m the goalie, the defender. And I know for me personally, as a coach, that is what I try and get my teams to buy into is that we are a collective unit. We all have to be working for the greater good to reach our success individually. And as a team
Daniel Harkavy (04:28):
Encouraging this team mentality starts with creating a common purpose and a clearly defined set of values or convictions that every member of your team buys into, no matter their talent or status, it’s a simple, yet highly effective way to help align everyone around something greater than themselves or their own contributions.
Tracy Nelson (04:50):
I think you need to have clearly defined mission statements, core values of your club or your team or your organization. And you need to make sure you’re embedding that into every time you are having any contact with your players, with your team and making that the focus of everything you do with your players.
Daniel Harkavy (05:14):
And you need to be consistent, not just in incorporating them into everything you do like Tracy mentioned, but in how you apply them, organizations and teams can begin to lose their way when they don’t apply those convictions consistently to everyone. Sometimes there’s a temptation to accept less than ideal behavior from certain team members, especially when they are top performers. Well, we know that Billy can be very difficult to work with, but he definitely does deliver results. Or we know Sally talks bad about some teammates, but she really adds to the bottom line. Great cultures don’t have two sets of standards.
Tracy Nelson (05:58):
I have some Claire’s currently that I have to make sure they’re staying accountable and that they are being, I don’t want to say necessarily put in place, but at times like they need to be told, like that’s not okay to talk to a player that way, right? It’s not okay to do that.
Daniel Harkavy (06:15):
One way to overcome that prioritize, fit, and culture. When looking at adding new team members, you can’t just look at their past performance and future potential and turn a blind eye to the value they bring to your organization and culture as a whole.
Tracy Nelson (06:29):
Is this player going to be a good fit for the team chemistry? Because we all know when you add, you add the wrong player, do your team doesn’t matter how good they are. It can completely disrupt your team chemistry. And now your team is actually worse off than they were before this player joined. And even though they’re really good. So I am very conscientious about the right fit, the right player, the right families be part of our program and our teams, because it goes back to building the culture. And if we are trying to build a positive holistic culture, where we are trying to create strong young female athletes to be successful in this world, not only in their sport and in their lives, you have to look at character. You have to look at integrity. You have to make sure that the right fit. So everything isn’t up. And then, and you’re just dealing with fires every single day.
Daniel Harkavy (07:26):
Those fires that Tracy is talking about there, the cost of adding the wrong person to your team. There are the distractions, interruptions, and issues that arise when someone is causing unhealthy conflict and drama within your teams, all of the talent in the world doesn’t matter if the cost is your culture. In fact, the harm that a bad fit has on your team can actually outweigh the benefit of a good fit. One example in his book, givers and takers, Adam Grant’s research found that the negative impact of takers people that tend to only help others for their own personal benefit exceeded the positive impact of a giver by a multiple of two or three to one. Another issue we’ve seen where companies overemphasize their star performance at the expense of the overall team is in the area of development. Too often, companies reserve their best development efforts to their top performers and clearly identified high potential leaders. While it’s not necessarily a bad idea to prioritize these groups, you shouldn’t do so at the expense of developing your entire team often, that’s where you can see the greatest reward.
Tracy Nelson (08:41):
You want to make sure you’re developing your top talent and making sure they’re going in the right direction and maximizing their potential, which can be a challenge. But you also need to make sure you are developing all of the players. Everybody develops differently. Everybody hits their peak at different times. And you see that in the youth game that maybe one year, I mean, I had a perfect example this year of a player who has struggled the last year or two. And then all of a sudden something clicked this year. And now she’s one of our best players on our team, right? So you, can’t just kind of like, Oh, I’m going to just work with the best players. And you know, the other ones just got to have to figure out how to get up to that level. You have to continue to work with all of them collectively, but also know they each have individual needs and their development and in their journey. Cause you never know when it’s going to click. And when it’s going to just, you know, all of a sudden they’re going to be like, wow, what? I don’t even know what happened to you now, you’re this amazing player.
Daniel Harkavy (09:41):
While you may invest in different groups differently, your approach needs to be customized to the individual and reach across the entire organization. One way to do that successfully is to adopt a more integrated coaching leader approach, empower and equip every one of your managers to be invested and directly involved in the coaching and development of his or her direct reports. This is where you can really leverage the shared vision of the team as well. When every manager is connecting every employee to both the team and the organization’s purpose, it helps them to see how their role and contribution matter. Not only does this fuel engagement, it allows something amazing to happen.
Tracy Nelson (10:25):
When you feel like you matter, your role matters that my coach cares about me. The organization cares about me, not just as a player, as a person, players are going to break down brick walls for you when, when they have that sense of feeling included and feeling that they matter, that goes so far in the success of any team, any organization, any club. And I think he can say that in any aspect of this world where you work or, or play, you need to know that you matter and constantly telling you you matter and you feel that way. You’re, you’re gonna be so much more productive in everything you do.
Daniel Harkavy (11:04):
Another benefit of this hands on development and coaching approach is that it allows you to better understand the unique strengths and weaknesses of each member of your team, rather than relying on your top performers to carry you. You can create a better strategy to maximize the unique gifts of your entire team and put every member in a position to be successful.
Tracy Nelson (11:27):
So I think defining the rules of the player, figuring out where they can best be suited on the field and coming up with a formation that will best suit the strengths of all of your players. Not just a couple is ultimately some of the ways you can be successful collectively and really focus on the strengths of all your players, because every player has strengths. They all, we all have strengths. We all have weaknesses. So identifying what the strengths are and how can we be successful collectively by utilizing the strengths of all of our players from one to 20.
Daniel Harkavy (12:06):
And ultimately that’s one of the biggest advantages I see to adopting more of a weak link strategy to the development of our teams. If you add star players that are more concerned with themselves, that feels like addition, but prioritizing the depth and the quality of your entire team and how they work in add to one another, that feels more like multiplication and that math can make average teams perform at exceptional level.
Tracy Nelson (12:35):
I’ve coached several different teams and we might not have the most talented team, but when you truly can get them to work as a team and work together and buy in, I mean, you can have so much success in so many ways. I think we’ve all seen that in many instances where a team should have beat somebody and they didn’t, and you’re like, how did they just lose? They have all this talent, but they played a team that really put together the teamwork and were able to, um, figure out a way to be successful against top talent
Daniel Harkavy (13:08):
As business shifts to more team and project-based work success today relies more on working with, for and through your people in this new reality. It’s more about the well balanced team where every member is working toward a common goal and able to leverage their strengths, not just a collection of individual big performers. In other words, success today is less about having one or two really bright stars, but instead creating a constellation of stars that is able to shine brighter together. That’s the power of investing in more of a weak link philosophy coming up. We’ll sit down with some of our building champions, executive coaches to discuss some practical steps you can take to apply this concept to your teams and your business.
Todd Mosetter (14:04):
Hi, my name is Todd [inaudible]. I’m a vice president and executive coach here at building champions. And today I’m excited to sit down with someone who I not only consider a colleague, but a friend, uh, my fellow VP and coach here, Dan foster, Dan, thanks for joining us, Todd. It’s great to be with you. Thanks for having me. So today we are talking about the difference between a strong link and a wink link game, right? A sport, if you will. And Daniel kind of explained it well for us, but you have a lot of experience leading teams personally, as well as coaching clients through it. So when you first think about this concept, strong link weekly, what jumps out to you? Well, yeah, it’s, uh, it’s definitely, uh, something that you’ve gotta be aware of when you’re either on a team or when you’re leading a team or you’re in charge of putting teams together. Um, you wanna make sure that you’ve got top performers, no question that’s essential
Dan Foster (14:52):
For teams to be successful for them to deliver on the results that they’re charged to deliver on. Uh, but at the same time, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t have, uh, one person that is, uh, you know, such a bright star that others, um, can’t shine and others aren’t being developed to be top performers as well. And so I think it’s a critical discussion that all leaders have to have as they look at the teams in their organization, or as they’re leading a team to make sure that they’ve got the right team to deliver on the results that they want and for long-term success of the team. Uh, they want to make sure that they’re developing others to be stars as well. So I think it’s very important.
Todd Mosetter (15:35):
You call that out, Dan, right? We’re not telling people that you shouldn’t get top talent. Exactly. It’s what is the expense of that talent for your team? Exactly. So if we kind of explore that strong leak and winkling theory, and just take it a bit deeper for this conversation in the, in the strong link, they’d say, get the superstar and then just fill in the rest of the team around it, right? The stats actually say you’re better off having weaker players to get the star, but in today’s business world, especially I think we’re moving away from that that may have worked 10, 20, 30 years ago. But today is as businesses and projects are more working through people with people, lateral leadership, this idea of having one person at the expense of the team, I think is even more of a risk. Absolutely.
Dan Foster (16:16):
Because if you think about it, you, you actually limit the scalability of the organization of the team, uh, the ability to achieve, uh, results. Um, if you’re reliant on one person to deliver the results and that individual has to have their hands in everything, then you’re going to limit the effectiveness of the team. And so you actually lose that collaboration. You lose the ability to network into other cross-functional teams that you need help with other departments, uh, other outside sources, where if it’s all reliant on one person, there’s just not enough minutes in the day for one person to be able to do that effectively for the organization. And so you’ve got to have a team that is equipped and where others can, can be as effective as the superstar, if you will.
Todd Mosetter (17:09):
Yeah. Not only is it a limiter, like you said, Dan, it also creates almost a sense. This may be too strong of a word, but almost learned helplessness, right? The rest of the team kind of sits back in terms of, Oh, well, Bob will always figure it out or Sally’s got the answer. And to your point, you don’t get the same, uh, multiplicative lift of having the entire team working together.
Dan Foster (17:30):
And you want people to be thinking creatively and to be innovating and to be looking at where’s the team going and, and having that ownership of the overall success and the results that are going to be achieved. And when you’re super deferential to a superstar like that, and you just kind of sit back that attitude, like you said, they’ll figure it out. Or, Hey, they’ll pick up the, the sales gap that’s missing right now. Um, or whatever it might be. Uh, you, you don’t have people that are saying, man, what can I do today to really help us reach our goals? What can I do to think differently, do my job differently so that we can be effective as a team. And you just, I think you want to try to avoid that deferential. I’ll just leave it up to so-and-so to, to get the job done.
Todd Mosetter (18:14):
And I think it doesn’t only happen within teams. It can happen across teams, right? So this is, this is a good point. I think for leaders, I think back to my own experience and I worked for a, a large national nonprofit for years, and they didn’t try and do this, but sometimes within the office, there was almost this split between what they referred to as the earners and the spenders, the ones that were out doing the fundraising, they were treated and valued differently. Sometimes then the other half of the organization that was actually implementing the programs that were literally saving lives, but the organization sometimes would prioritize that sales role, that fundraising role. So they got paid a little more, their perks were a little bit better. The blind eye was turned maybe with some, some behaviors, right? Because organizationally they began to prioritize one team over another.
Dan Foster (19:02):
Yep, exactly. And when you do that, then you start to excuse behaviors that don’t align to your core values, your purpose, your mission that you’re trying to achieve, and you can have a superstar that’s out there, or even a super team that’s out there. That’s leaving a trail of destruction behind them, and everybody’s afraid to call them on it because, you know, if they do, maybe they leave the organization. Maybe they stop trying, maybe they don’t put forth as much engagement as they have, and you start to see results dip. And so what you do is, is you end up leading out of fear rather than leading with purpose and intentionality, holding people to the convictions and the values and the purpose and the mission and ensuring that everyone’s aligned around that. So
Todd Mosetter (19:44):
As a leader, I think if when that happens or where you’re at risk of that happening also is you almost give a sense of entitlement to one team, right? They deserve more so as a leader, how can you help fight that early on?
Dan Foster (19:57):
Well, I think it comes down to mindset and, and really working to make sure that everyone on your team has the correct mindset around, uh, the shared purpose, shared mission, shared vision that we’re in this together, that yes, we need you to be at your best every single day, but when you’re at your best, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to overshadow other people and that because they’re doing their job that may be completely different than yours. Um, you have to recognize these essential synergy that comes from operations, doing what they do, best sales, doing what they do, best marketing, doing what they do best and appreciate that and appreciate that all of us have gifts and strengths and talents that we need people to be, uh, fully utilizing, be fully engaged. And when we do that, then everybody’s ship gets lifted, the tide lifts, everything, right? And so I think it starts with a mindset and an understanding, and you have to hold people accountable to that mindset. And when you see it start to shift or start to, you know, get where there’s that entitlement or that attitude, you got to call it out right away.
Todd Mosetter (21:04):
I think those are great examples. I also think of the power that storytelling has in this. And sometimes you get that shared purpose and you can communicate that, but don’t miss the chance to share stories of how every team, every person is impacting the mission. And especially in a more of a sales driven organization, it’s easy to highlight the sales wins because sometimes they’re easier to see easier to applaud, but as a leader, you have to make sure to your point that you’re telling really good stories about how everyone is contributing.
Dan Foster (21:34):
I couldn’t agree more Todd. Yeah, absolutely. And doing that on a consistent basis, not just at the end of the year as a, you know, a wink and a nod to accounting for all the great work they did this year, you know, but consistently each month, Hey, thanks for, you know, making sure that our books are in order and that we’re able to fulfill all of our orders and, and do things accurately, making sure that sales and marketing and fulfillment all of those, they just, they’re, they’re aware weekly, monthly of the contribution that they’re making and how they’re pushing the organization forward, how they’re contributing to that vision that we have in order to, to serve customers, serve our community and achieve our goals. And you’re absolutely right. Looking for those stories, which requires us to then as leaders be engaging everybody, not just our top producers and spending time with them, but making sure as leaders that we’re, we’re taking the time to go to those different departments that maybe typically are a little bit more introverted in terms of the people that are on them, uh, on those teams and engaging them, making sure, you know, what’s going on in the trenches with them hearing the success stories.
Dan Foster (22:40):
So it requires us as leaders to really actively listen and seek the perspective of all the teams around us.
Todd Mosetter (22:47):
I think that’s so true when we think across organizations in between teams, but a lot of this topic applies to smaller teams as well. And we think about that difference between maybe a group and a team, right? So when you have a group it’s individuals that are working more for their own goals and outcomes and a team kind of comes together. Yeah. The problem with, I think the superstar mentality taken too far, not that all superstars are like this, but you kind of get that, that diva mentality, if you will. And, and as Daniel and Tracy talked about in the, in the first half, it can affect the culture if there’s not the right fit. Yeah. I know here at building champions, I know you personally, we’re big fans of our friend Patrick Lynchian and the table group. And when he talks about that ideal team player and he talks about hungry, humble, and smart. Yeah. That’s a great criteria I think, to use absolutely. When you’re helping your clients think about that, right. Fit. Do I prioritize the superstar who might be a little bit better or do I prioritize someone who’s going to be a good fit? How do you coach them through that? That’s because
Dan Foster (23:46):
You do need superstars, you need people that are gifted and talented. Um, and you also need people that don’t mind being in those support roles, uh, when you’re leading a team. And so I think it does come down to the culture like Daniel talked about and making sure that you’ve clearly defined the type of culture in which you want your superstars, and you want your support people and your, your other, maybe less brighter stars that are someday going to be superstars. You want to create a culture and an environment where they all can work together and with the right mindset, supporting each other, helping each other. So I do believe it starts with the leader, defining the culture in which they’re inviting superstars into they’re inviting support people into, and they’re identifying talent that can someday be so that they can have multiple superstars. So it’s not just one, but it’s, we’ve got a superstar here doing this type of work, a superstar here. And it becomes more of a constellation than a bright star that everybody, that all these little things are just circling around. We want a constellation of bright stars that people can look to and say, I want to be a part of that team because I have the opportunity to grow into be a star, to be a part of something that was shared vision, shared purpose and shared goals. So,
Todd Mosetter (25:03):
Yeah, I think to your point earlier about how important mindset and belief is, right? We talked about this at building champions all the time. Beliefs always come before behaviors. I think as a leader, you need to set a core belief. And that is for all of my teams, for all of my leaders, developing leadership capacity is not only a competitive advantage. It’s a corporate responsibility, right? It’s we have to have that mindset that we’re not just bringing in stars and allowing them to run, we’re identifying the right fit and the right talent. And we have a mindset that growing them, developing them, coaching them, we can bring
Dan Foster (25:35):
Their best. Absolutely. Yeah. And that, that is a strategic advantage. It’s um, you also become a magnet for great talent, that those individuals that know if I could just find an environment, a corporate culture, a team culture, or I can be poured into, and I can be developed by people that are a little bit out ahead of me in terms of experience. I want to go work for that team. I want to work for that leader because I know they’re going to care about my development. And I know there’s an opportunity for me to help this team, not just be a team that lasts for 10 years or 15 years, but 25, 30, 50 years, because they’re developing, they’re growing the next level of talent up to really have an impact and help the, the vision continue to be realized.
Todd Mosetter (26:19):
Yeah, I know there are very few absolutes. So I want to be careful when I say this because it’s not a black and white type of situation, but for me personally, and for when I, where I, where I would coach my clients, if you’re looking at candidates and you have to prioritize, if you will track record and performance, past experience or culture fit mindset, aligned values, I’m going with the mindset, values, culture fit all day.
Dan Foster (26:47):
I think you’re right, because those things are very difficult to change in people, right? So if you have the right mindset, the right culture fit, the right values match as a leader, then you can work on those other skills to help them to become, uh, as effective as they possibly can be a superstar within the organization. And then you’ve got that foundation of them being the cultural fit and the values match. And you’re building them up to be a superstar that has that, that ability to balance both people and results. And you’re going to have a much more successful team, I think.
Todd Mosetter (27:23):
Yeah. If I had to say, which challenge would I rather take on? Yeah. Finding a way to develop someone’s skills or changing who they are. I’m always saying it like that extreme. I think the skill set is definitely an easier one to overcome. I think so, but if I’m a leader, sometimes this is where I think a lot of organizations, they it’s a trap they fall into though, right. Because we’re always trying to balance short-term results with longterm opportunity. And that track record that resume can be very appealing. But I love the phrase that Tracy used in the first half is those fires. Yeah. Those little fires and culture doesn’t erode overnight. Nope. But if you let enough of the wrong people in, eventually it’s going to fall apart. It is.
Dan Foster (28:06):
Yep. And it starts to hit sometimes when it’s those little things that happen that as a leader, you don’t know sometimes that they are happening. And then all of a sudden, uh, you, you actually, you start to hear that someone’s unhappy. Or maybe someone just turns in their letter of resignation and it’s like, Oh, okay, that’s a red flag, but I wonder what’s going on. And then all of a sudden, a couple months later another person does. And all of a sudden you realize we’ve got something internally going on here, the results look great, but people aren’t, they don’t feel like they belong here. They don’t feel like this is a team they want to be a part of. And so now if you continue on with the, the, the culture cancer that is there and you don’t address it, then this team’s not going to last much longer. And you’re going to be getting, if you work for a large organization, you’re going to be getting a call from somebody saying, what the heck is going on there. Uh, if it’s your own team, then you you’re, you’re starting to limit the longevity of the team’s ability to perform and for you to achieve success. So yeah, you got to address it
Todd Mosetter (29:07):
Well said, Dan, you know, another area I think that this concept applies to is specifically around development, right? If we have limited numbers of resources, do we prioritize the development of our top talent, our top performers at the expense of a coordinated plan to invest in everyone. I love the story that Tracy shared is that sometimes those players that you might write off early, but then suddenly it all kind of comes together. They continue to invest in them and the player kind of pops. Yeah. So we’re not saying that you shouldn’t maybe allocate resources differently to different, but explore this concept with me. When you work with your clients, you still have to develop the entire team though.
Dan Foster (29:47):
Yeah, absolutely. Um, you, you do have to, because if you’re not developing your team, the, the, the, the pace at which the, um, the, the, the markets are changing, uh, VUCA as Daniel likes to refer to it is happening. If you’re not keeping up with that from a development standpoint, you’re creating a gap that cannot be overcome eventually. And so you do have to be consistently developing the team so that they interact really well together so that they perform well together. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found that the top performers, whether they be on teams that I’ve led, or an organizations that I’ve worked for, they’re, they’re the individuals that they’re developing themselves as well. And so it’s not that you don’t invest in them, but they’re hungry. That, that going back to the ideal team player, you know, I think of basketball players and Damian Lillard.
Dan Foster (30:40):
And I heard him talking the other day about, you know, for the Portland trailblazers, why he’s doing so well. And he, the routine that he goes through each day, he doesn’t wait for his coach or a leader to come up to him and say, you know, I think you probably, we want to get you somebody to help you shoot free throws and shoot those long distance threes and really get better at it. He’s out there doing it himself. He’s practicing. He’s, he’s driven to be better. And not that everybody on the team isn’t, but I think those superstars have a natural desire to develop themselves. And I think you promote that you encourage that, but you don’t invest all your money in them at the expense of the rest of the team. You have to have a budget for developing them because you need them to show up and Excel and be developed and ready to, uh, show up on game night if you will, at ready to perform. So,
Todd Mosetter (31:30):
Yeah, I think that’s such a great point. You know, one thing we’ve advocated here at building champions for a long time is knowing that budgets time priority they’re limited, right? One of the challenges is organizations that try and outsource the coaching and development. Well, it’s going to make it harder to stretch that limited budget. So where we work with our clients on, and we’re huge advocates of is how do you help every manager become a coaching leader? Correct? Because then you can scale that so that no matter whether the top performer, the low performer, somewhere in between, you’re not trying to allocate limited resource, right? Every manager is able to take on that mindset of it’s my job to create the strongest team, to develop every player. We’ve seen great results with that.
Dan Foster (32:11):
Absolutely. Yeah. You, you cascade down this whole idea of development from, uh, the top all throughout the organization. Just like you said, where managers are pouring into their direct reports and they’re coaching them, they’re developing them. And what it does is, is it allows you to do it from a unique standpoint. So I can look at my direct reports and say, Sally needs this, um, you know, Michael needs this, Matt needs this. And because I’m a coaching leader, I’m able to meet them exactly where they’re at and develop them and help them to grow and be strong and their performance. Whereas if, if we just said, Hey, we’ve got this webinar we’re doing over here. And I hope everybody can show up for it. You know, that might be not what Michael needs. It might be not what Matt needs in order to develop and really grow and be excelling in their, in their role.
Dan Foster (33:01):
And so the coaching leadership allows you to meet your people where they’re at develop them and grow them and help them to be the best that they can be. Uh, and you’re right, if you have that mindset and it’s throughout the whole organization, then you see that on every team, you see the leader, coaching, developing their people. They’re going to then coach and develop the people that are under them. And then when they get promoted and they become that star, that gets to be moved up. They already know coaching leader culture. That’s where we’re at here, where we we’ve developed a coaching culture. It’s an expectation that I’m developing the people around me and that I’m working with a bunch of peers that want to develop each other and coach each other as well. Yeah, that, that,
Todd Mosetter (33:43):
[inaudible] that mindset also, I think then cascades to you made a good point, right? They, you meet them where they’re at. And by doing that, you’re able to see the strengths and weaknesses of every team member. So you, as the leader can then figure out how do we come together in more of that weak link mentality, right. Rather than saying, Hey, here’s my strength. Let’s mitigate all the rest of our weaknesses. How do I ensure that we’re balanced? We talked about the cross department impact earlier about sharing successes, but you know, one additional thought that I think comes to mind is in today’s day and age, our customer is so important. And the one of the challenges is if you don’t prioritize the scope of the team, right? So let’s use the soccer example. You can have the best striker in the sport, right. But if your midline and defense can’t get them the ball, it’s never going to matter. So you can have the best sales team in the world. You can win the contract, but if your customer service, isn’t there, if they’re not being onboarding, if they’re not being cared for. So I think as a leader, we need to think of our entire business as being weak link, don’t prioritize gesture sales, or gesture it, or just your ex. You have to look at the whole ecosystem. If you’re going to deliver a top notch experience in today’s day and age.
Dan Foster (34:56):
Yeah. Couldn’t agree more. It’s that end-to-end business thinking systems thinking is sometimes referred to, and it is, it’s seen, uh, the perspective, um, uh, uh, of the entire client journey, um, from sales all the way through to fulfillment and, uh, them being a happy customer that wants to refer you to their friends and family and, and making sure that, you know, where there’s maybe some weak spots. And how do you make those a little bit stronger? And how do you ensure that they’re going to have a great experience along that entire journey? I think you’re absolutely right. And if you don’t then, like you said, one department can bring down the whole team or the whole organization in terms of a client experience standpoint. So yeah,
Todd Mosetter (35:38):
I think it’s especially true when a consumer’s voice is amplified the way it is today. I think personally, we can all think of great marketing, great sales, then you get the product and you’re just like, yeah. Right. Or you have a problem with the product and you go to customer service.
Dan Foster (35:58):
Oh yeah. And think about the power that social media has right now. You know, my wife, um, recently purchased a product that she wasn’t happy with. And she reached out to the customer service line five different times called them and never got a call back, would get disconnected. And so I told her, I said, why don’t you go post something on social media and tag the company in it within five minutes of doing it. She got a call from the head of their customer service department. And she had the entire thing settled within 30 minutes. And so, yeah, we, we have to remember that we, we have these, um, clients that their perspective, their ability to voice what’s happening and the impact that that can have in our organization. We, we cannot just prioritize one department over another, not invest to make sure that each department is delivering on excellence in every part of the client journey. Uh, if we do, then, then we’re going to struggle. We’re going to have those, those moments where our customers slowly start to leave us because we haven’t figured it out. So,
Todd Mosetter (36:58):
Yeah. So as a leader, you know, as a closing thought on, this is if you’re a coach of a team, right. You’re looking at your entire team identifying strengths and weaknesses. So if you’re the leader of a company, I would encourage you. Like Dan said, to look at that whole journey, start to end and figure out, are you over prioritizing one area and make sure that you’re ensuring there’s no weak links across it. Right. Right. If you’re the leader of people on a team, what’s the culture, what’s the mindset. What are the values that you’re putting in to make sure that the team, the we is going to be greater than the me, and by all means, get the best talent that you can. It’s going to win in today’s age, but not at the expense of culture and fit. Yeah, exactly. Anything else, big thoughts that hit your mind as we close down.
Dan Foster (37:41):
I think just what you said there, I think it’s still business is about achieving results. We can’t forget that, but it’s also about achieving results that are more than just profit. It’s about achieving results, where you’re having an impact on the communities that you serve and the people that you serve. And it’s also about having results from a cultural standpoint, where you have great talent that want to come and work for your team or for your organization. And so, just as Todd said, if you can demonstrate that you’ve got a phenomenal culture with great values, a great vision shared purpose, and where people come together to collaborate and work together, and that there are no divas or egos that, uh, get deferential treatment. Um, but that everyone we want superstars, but we want them to be a part of something bigger where they belong to something they’re becoming something together and they’re building something together. That’s huge. I think Dan, thanks much for taking time out
Todd Mosetter (38:36):
Listeners, thank you for listening again, as business shifts superstars matter, but teams matter even more.
Daniel Harkavy (38:48):
Thanks so much to Tracy for sharing her insights and experience around coaching soccer and leading great teams. As a reminder, you can listen to other episodes and access relevant tools by visiting building champions.com forward slash podcast. And we’d love it. If you would share the podcast and leave us a rating and a review in your Apple podcasts app, doing so helps people to find us. And it helps us to learn what we’re doing well and how we can continue to grow and provide our listeners with content that will truly transform their lives and their leadership.