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The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2001

    How to Be a Better Team Member, Role Player, and Leader!

    Dr. Maxwell has taken on a very difficult challenge in this book. He looks at effective teams from the perspective of being a better team member, playing various roles in a successful team, and being a team leader . . . all in the same book! If you are like me, you will feel that he has carried off the challenge well. The format of the book will be familiar to those who have read Dr. Maxwell's excellent leadership books. In this case, there are 17 laws, with each one being comprised of additional elements. Each law has one or two overriding examples, and then many small examples . . . usually as one for each subpoint. At the end of each law's section, you have questions to answer and assignments to do. This aspect of the book is like having a workbook to help you begin to apply the lessons to your own situation. The book begins with a key question, 'Will your involvement with others be successful?' In emphasizing that all 17 laws are important, Dr. Maxwell starts out with an anecdote about how a young leader absolutely insisted on knowing what one thing was most important about teams. Dr. Maxwell thought and told the young man that it was that there was no one most important thing about teams. In the end, the same point is made by observing that good chemistry (not one of the 17 laws) only occurs on a team when all 17 laws are being observed. Here is my rephrasing of the 17 laws: (1) By combining their efforts and talents, teams can outperform any individual. Anyone who has seen a great player brought down by a special effort from the opposing team will know the truth of that observation. (2) Team players have to subordinate their self-interests on behalf of the team's purpose. In the NBA, the teams with ball hogs don't win championships. I find that this law is violated more often than it is followed. (3) Each team player can add a greater contribution when in the correct role. If you turned a great linebacker into a tight end, the results usually wouldn't be as good. (4) The more difficult the goal, the more important the teamwork. The example used here is climbing Mount Everest and the hard work that dozens of people have to do so that two people can climb atop the peak. Most teams suffer from having weak or inappropriate goals. Spend time on this area . . . and take on something worth doing! (5) The team's results will only be as good as the performance of the weakest person. The poor leadership by the captain of the Exxon Valdez is used as an example. (6) People on the team have to find ways to spark the team on to greater accomplishment. Michael Jordan during his years with the Bulls is the example. (7) Teams need a vision of what needs to be accomplished to inform and inspire their efforts. If the company leader doesn't do this, then someone on the team must. IBM's improved marketing under Lou Gerstner's time as CEO is the key example. (8) Bad attitudes can spoil great talent. You are better building great attitudes on the team than having great talent. Ideally, you should try to have both. (9) Team members need to be able to rely on one another. Many people have trouble either trusting others or being trustworthy. Many teams find that exercises can help. There is a terrific example of demolishing the Omni in Atlanta using explosives that makes this point well. (10) Be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to do what needs to be done. Most people know what should be done, but are not able to discipline themselves or the team to get there. The book describes the opportunity that Montgomery Ward missed to become a retail department store ahead of Sears in the early 20th century. (11) Keep track of your progress to focus your attention. Think of this as keeping score. When you are not meeting your quantitative goals, you should adapt. (12) You need to have lots of people who can play the same roles. When one person isn't being effective, you should substitute. This give

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