We’ve already cleared up the misconception that it’s not just self-focused characters who can be successful in individual sports. In fact, we have analysed that in the last two decades, the athletes who have been most successful in individual sports are those who have had a team focus. Well, in team sports, it is clear that without individualistic, selfish characters with an individual focus, who put their own goals before team goals, there is no truly world-beating team. So when we talk about teambuilding in team sports, let’s be careful!
Over-hyped team cohesion
When team sports professionals traditionally talk about team cohesion, their main aim is to make it clear to team members that team goals are absolutely and indisputably superior to individual goals. The message on their part is also that anyone who does not think in this way has no business being on a team. The idea itself is a complete fallacy —businesspeople know this perfectly well — because in the great team spirit, in the great team cohesion, personal goals can be hidden behind team goals. This is the biggest challenge for most multinationals and the cause of their suffering. For a long time, the phenomenon of a completely different way of thinking about the world, especially for the more dominant new generations like The Ambitionists, born between 1985 and 1996, was not understood. This is also the reason why, while members of the older generations preferred to work for a well-known multinational with a venerable image, the younger ones prefer to choose a “world-famous” startup as a starting point and see it as a failure to work for a multinational, because it means that they were not good enough to be the raw material for the trendy and modern new world. So usually, the young people with the best skills, unique knowledge, the right creativity, and creative flair end up at startups. There they had individual responsibilities, individual results to bring to the table, and there are not thirty people shifting responsibilities to one another, which is very often the case in multinationals. There was no shame in being selfish, because with that comes taking responsibility, because that’s just the way personality types are. However, we like to dream of having someone who is both a perfect team player and, of course, when the need arises, also immediately takes on the difficulties of individual decision-making. Well, these super personalities don’t really exist. You can learn to carry these qualities all at once, but when you get into a critical situation, you quickly find out who you really are.
After the business detour, let’s get back to the world of sport, but bring the facts and experience of business with us. If we overemphasise the importance of team as a concept, and its interpretation is not made in the right way, what we get is a very well-functioning, cooperative, supportive, and helpful community during peacetime. However, we also get the problem that in a real crisis, people will stand idly by, and everyone will wait for someone else to solve the final challenge. But because they have learned to manage everything as a team, in a real crisis, this theory fails. It takes one person to create the last goal-scoring opportunity or take the penalty at the end, and of course, you can try to get eleven people to take the all-important penalty after, say, a football match, but you may not be appreciated by the referees. It is, therefore, particularly important to make room from the very first minute for team members who put individual goals before team goals. We need to create an environment in which the team can welcome these people as they are and, more importantly, allow these often selfish people to be themselves. This will enable the team to be able to put out at least one person who does not falter in crisis situations. They may want to be a star, or they may think they’re better than the rest of the team – and be prone to grandstanding – but in the right situations, they simply deliver. They do not try to pass the ball when they have an opening; they don’t stare at the ground when the coach wants someone to volunteer to take a penalty kick; instead, they feel their time has come, and their concentration is multiplied.