Think Leadership Ideas

Building a Winning Team

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing Carolina Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice speak at a local meeting of the Association of Corporate Growth. Especially given the recent track record of the Canes (i.e. a 12 game losing streak), Maurice’s comments reflected lessons from the school of hard knocks. An excellent story about the event was reported in the News and Observer.

To summarize takeaway ideas... whether your team is winning or struggling, work on building the team must be relentless. Maurice noted three stages of team development - trust, support, and identity.

Trust is when everyone on the team is doing something, contributes, has a place. Team members must pass the “shirt-off test” where it’s unmistakably clear who is working out and in shape (and who is not). Team members need to trust that everyone is working hard. Trust in a team is either building up or breaking down, there is no middle ground.

Do team members support or blame each other? Maurice notes the most telling indicator of support is where players sit for lunch. When they sit in cliques - highest paid players at one, europeans at another, lower tier players at another - spending their time complaining how the team would be better if only the other groups got their act together, then both trust and support has eroded. Coaches (or leaders) need to intervene by pulling aside key players, and getting them to intentionally mix and reach out to those at other tables.

Maurice notes you can watch videos of great teams and quickly describe what makes them great. They have consistency in what they do and how they do it that is readily apparent. Not so with mediocre teams. Part of the identity of a winning team always includes owning up when performance falls short, and stepping up to do what needs doing.

Maurice’s insights are spot-on, applicable to any leader wanting to sustain an exceptional organization.

Go Canes!!

Tom Stevens© 2009


I am proud to serve on the board of the Association of Corporate Growth, Raleigh Durham Chapter. Our mission is to be a catalyst for business growth by providing businesses with relevant knowledge, sources of capital, and other resources. Our vision is to create a business climate where regional companies thrive, contribute to the prosperity and vitality of the community, and serve as models of sound, ethical leadership and sustainable growth.