This post originally appeared on OPEN FORUM and is reprinted here with permission. Some business owners will tell you that hiring talented people is the key to success. As sports teams frequently prove, though, even the most talented employees can ruin an organisation if they aren’t able to work well with others.
Take NFL wide receiver Randy Moss. For years he’s been regarded as one of the most exciting and dynamic athletes to ever play football. Still, not only has he been cut loose by two NFL teams in four weeks, but when all 32 teams were given a chance to pick him up on waivers, only one team thought he was a valuable addition to their roster. How can that be?
That’s because Moss is known throughout the league as a disgruntled employee. He argues with teammates and bosses, insults clients, and worst of all, does not give his full effort when he feels he isn’t being given his due respect.
behaviour like that is not just counter productive; it saps the morale of other workers. If fuels resentment and jealously that makes it impossible for the larger team to get along. At a certain point, negative attitudes outweigh the positive benefits of his talent.
No one understands this better than New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. He traded Moss, a player who brought to his team a record number of touchdowns during a perfect regular season just three years ago, because Moss began complaining publicly about his situation.
Belichick knows that a well-run team, where each player knows and accepts his role, will always beat a collection of superstars who only look out for themselves. It’s this philosophy that led the Patriots to win three Super Bowls in four years and to keep them near the top of the NFL for the last decade.
Even when bad attitudes are not an issue, talented teams can still struggle to succeed. Look at the Miami Heat. The addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to a squad led by All-Star Dwyane Wade made them arguably the greatest collection of talent in the league. Yet, the Heat has struggled to find its way this season, losing several close games to more experienced teams.
Even though the team’s superstars are doing well as individuals and get along personally, the team doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. Leadership roles are undefined and the players have yet to figure out how to make their tremendous talents complement one another, instead of getting in one other’s way.
The Heat may eventually get their act together and come to dominate the NBA before the season is over, but they will only do it by learning to play together, with one or more teammates sacrificing their personal success for the betterment of the team. Talent will get you nowhere without the teamwork to back it up.
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