If your management team were a professional sports team, how good would it be? How well would everyone work together? How united would they be to achieve your strategy?

If your team were a soccer/football team, how well would they play? Now, we usually don’t think of business teams this way, but Stephen Covey did.

In his book The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey quoted the results of a Harris Poll of 23,000 U.S. residents employed full time within key industries and in key functional areas. The results were pretty depressing. When he put these results in the context of a soccer team, the picture that emerges is somewhere between comical and ridiculous.

The results of the Harris Poll are as follows. Of those polled:
  • Only 37% said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
  • Only 1 in 5 was enthusiastic about their team’s and organization’s goals.
  • Just 1 in 5 said they have a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their team’s and organizational goals.
  • Only half were satisfied with the work they have accomplished at the end of the week.
  • Only 15% felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals.
  • Merely 15% felt they worked in a high-trust environment.
  • Only 17% felt their organization fosters open communication and better ideas
  • Just 10% felt that their organization holds people accountable for results.
  • Only 20% fully trusted the organization they work for.
  • Only 13% have high-trust, highly cooperative working relationships with other groups or departments.

The numbers look not so good, but it is hard to imagine what something like this really means. This is where Stephen Covey’s soccer analogy really helps make things clear.

Steven Covey – Soccer Team Analogy

A soccer team has 11 players. When you break down the percentages above in terms of proportion of players on the field, the following picture emerges. Of the 11 players:

  • Only four would know which goal was theirs
  • Just two would even care
  • Only two players would know what position they play and know exactly what they are suppose to do
  • And, all but two players would, in some way, be competing against their own team rather than the opponent!

How is that for team dynamics? If you were the manager of this team, how many minutes into the first half would you last before you broke down completely?

Reading this, you may be thinking, “But this applies to all employees of an organization. A management team is smaller and much more coordinated.”

Maybe so. However, how many do you need for the team to not function well. Going back to the soccer analogy, what if:

  • Two didn’t know which goal was theirs?
  • Even one didn’t care?
  • Another two were not really clear on the position they played and what they were supposed to do?
  • Just one competed actively against the rest of your team?

Looking at it, it doesn’t take much. As they say, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bushel.

Getting Real

The reality is you need every one of the members of your management team to know what they are doing and work together. 100%. Especially now that we’re coming out of the pandemic and into uncertain times.

There are several ways to get alignment and get your team on the same page. However, if you really want to take your group of managers from good individual performers to a cohesive, high-functioning leadership team, look into our bootcamp.

Our bootcamp methodology was developed from team workshop exercises tested successfully at GE, Ford, Ontario Power Generation and Enbridge, among many others. We bet it will do wonders for your team as well.

Here is a link in case you want to explore this further through a Readiness Check-in.

Let us know what you think! Contact us at – letstalk@hadaspartnersinc.com

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