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02 November 2007

The "REAL Factor"

Team PlayersAm I REAL? Are you REAL?

I've spent some time thinking about the whole "team" concept lately. Specifically: What makes me successful as a team member and how does it ultimately help the team be successful?

After some thought I was able to pin down at least four things that made sense to me. I'll call it the REAL Factor for lack of better terminology:

RESPONSIBILITY: Are we responsible? Can the team trust us to do what we say we're going to do? Can we take our little piece of the puzzle and follow it to its logical conclusion without being reminded over and over again? Do we take notes in meetings? Do we have an organizational strategy? Are we on time? Do we own our mistakes and willingly acknowledge them in order to make things better for the team?

EXCELLENCE: Do we strive to be excellent? When we do something is it to just check it off the list or do we do it to the best of our ability? Do we view small tasks and projects as steps to accomplishing the "greater" vision? Do we ask the hard questions of other team members in order to raise the bar and live up to our standard of excellence? Do we cheer for our team members when they show excellence in their role?

ATTITUDE: How is my attitude? Do I look forward to being with the team? Do I support them (even when things are difficult)? Do I trust that those in authority over me want what's best for me? Do I actively engage with others on my team? Do I look for the best in others and in situations? Do I actively attempt to steer clear of negative conversations and gossip? Do I look for the light at the end of the tunnel and pointing the team toward it?

LEADERSHIP: Am I leading well? Could another person watch me and excel? Do I have the ability to interact with the team on a variety of levels? Do I practice what I preach? Am I available to my team? Do they feel valued and appreciated because of the way I treat them? Am I on the leading edge? Am I an early adopter? Do I look for the next best process or solution to take my team to the next level? Do I smile when someone says, "That can't be done." Am I able to change with the times in order to change the lives of those on my team and the lives of those we serve?

I see this clearly when I watch the all time greats in team sports like hockey, soccer and football. These players (Gretzky, Elway, Jordan, etc.) are REAL players because they take responsibility for their shortcomings, their training, their general health and their skill set. They strive for excellence at their position even when at the top of their game. They have the never-say-die attitude - even when faced with overwhelming odds. They lead their teams well because they understand that that without the other team members they would lose every time. And they are always on the leading edge when it comes to finding innovative ways to harness their abilities.

A high calling? Of course. But not impossible by any stretch of the imagination.