High Five! combines the spellbinding charm of a timeless parable with cutting-edge information about why teams are important and what individuals and organizations can do to build successful ones.
Through the story of Alan Foster, a workplace one-man band, High Five! identifies the four key ingredients of winning teams. Although Alan is an effective producer, he is unwilling to share the spotlight by partnering on projects and is fired because, as his boss puts it, "Alan, we need good producers who are good team players, too." It is a bitter pill for him to swallow.
While mulling over his disappointment, he takes his son to his grade-five hockey practice, where it is clear that his son's team, the Riverbend Warriors, knows nothing about teamwork, either. When the team's two overworked coaches learn of Alan's plight, they persuade him to join their ranks, and he finds himself charged with teaching himself and the players the meaning of teamwork. With the help of a woman friend-a former girls' basketball coach who has "won more high school basketball championships than anyone"-Alan and the Warriors learn the magic of teamwork and that "none of us is as smart as all of us."
With its simple style and easy-to-follow techniques, High Five! is a must-read for anyone seeking to learn the value and power of teamwork.
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About the Author
Ken Blanchard, PhD, is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world. He has co-authored 60 books, including Raving Fans and Gung Ho! (with Sheldon Bowles). His groundbreaking works have been translated into over 40 languages and their combined sales total more than 21 million copies. In 2005 he was inducted into Amazon's Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 bestselling authors of all time. The recipient of numerous leadership awards and honors, he is cofounder with his wife, Margie, of The Ken Blanchard Companies®, a leading international training and consulting firm.
Sheldon Bowles lives in Winnipeg, Canada, and is president of Ode to Joy Limited, chairman of Precision Metalcraft Inc., and an associate of the Exchange Group. A noted speaker, author, and businessperson, he serves on several boards and is currently busy with new projects: a chain of full-service car washes and three forthcoming books, High Five!, Kingdomality, and Road to Riches, all coauthored with Ken Blanchard.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1Loud, constant cheers and the crack of wooden hockey sticks frantically trying to get the puck rang out in the frigid air and bounced back from the arena's concrete walls and the wooden stands where parents were stamping their feet to keep warm.
On the ice there was a mad scramble behind the home net as the clock hit zero, the horn sounded, and the game ended. The spectators quickly exited to the heated canteen while the players headed for the dressing rooms.
When it came to energy, drive, and enthusiasm, the grade-five boys hockey team at Riverbend Elementary School was truly remarkable. Every single player was destined for NHL stardom.
At least that's what they believed. If unflinching belief in one's own ability and a can-do attitude were the magic key to success, the Riverbend Warriors would have been at the top of their league.
Unfortunately, in reality, they had lost most of their games. When they won, it usually meant the opposing team was playing even worse hockey. And this Saturday, Riverbend had lost again.
As Alan Foster watched his son, David, and his teammates go down to yet another humiliating loss, he marveled at how little the boys seemed aware of their own shortcomings. Skating off the ice they were defiant in defeat. A bad referee, bad ice, bad breaks, and even bad skate sharpening were among the culprits being named. No one was accepting responsibility, individually or collectively, for the loss.
"Another great night of grade-five hockey," said Alan to Coach Milt Gorman while David, down in the locker room, changed to street clothes.
"I've always dreamed of a great team. Instead, once again we got our heads handed to us," replied Milt with a warm laugh.
"You and Coach Nanton really are wonderful the way you give so much time to this," said Alan.
"Gives me a chance to spend time with my son' and besides, I love the game," said Coach Gorman as he stepped out of the player's box on his way to the locker room. "Some days, though, I do wish I didn't have a team with half of the boys frightened to go after the puck and the other half hogging the puck the second they get their stick on it."
The reference to puck hogs rattled Alan, but not as much as Coach Gorman's next words: "David told my Billy that you got cut loose at work.
"That's right," replied Alan with more brusqueness than he intended.
"Sorry to hear that," said Milt as he swung several spare hockey sticks up on his shoulder. "Bad luck."
"No," Alan heard himself saying emphatically,not bad luck. The last four or five years the company has been changing. I didn't. The result was I didn't fit anymore. It wasn't bad luck or even a bad ref or bad ice. It was my fault."
"Jeez," said Milt. "If our kids had half the guts and gumption you've got to take personal responsibility for what happens, they might really be on their way to the NHL."
"To tell the truth, this is the first time I've admitted it to myself or anyone else," said Alan. "I guess listening to those kids leaving the ice with all their misplaced grumbling was a wake-up call."
Alan's admission was also right in line with his one-man-band philosophy. He believed he had only himself to count on, so no one else could take the blame. It also provided a way to avoid facing the real problem. He had accepted responsibility. What more could he do? Case closed. No need to look deeper or further.
Of course, Milt wasn't aware of this. He was thinking about something entirely different.
"Well, here's the thing," said Milt. "I really didn't mean to embarrass you."
"No problem," said Alan.
"Nice of you to say. But what I was trying to get at is that Gus Nanton and I could really use help with these kids. I know from David that work used to keep you busy most evenings and weekends, but I was hoping you might have the time now to give us a hand."
"Me teach hockey? I haven't skated in years. I'm not even sure I remember the rules," said Alan.
"I know the rules. Coach Nanton skates beautifully. Besides, as coaches we have only one job and that's to get these kids working as a team, teaching them that everyone, working together, will accomplish more than each of them giving 100 percent individually. That's where we could use some help. If these kids learn the magic of teamwork, we'll have given them a greater gift than all the skating practice and rule drill ever could."
The arena, which minutes before had reverberated with the clash of sticks and cheers, was now deserted except for Alan and Milt.
"Okay," said Alan, taking a deep breath. "Second honest confession of the night. The change I got fired over? Teamwork. I got fired even though I was one of their best producers because I wasn't a team player. I'd hardly be the one to teach teamwork."
Milt cocked his head to the side as if to better consider what Alan had said. Then, shifting the weight of the hockey sticks on his shoulder, he replied: "That company may not want you, but I do. I think you'll be perfect. You don't have to sing like Pavarotti to teach singing."
Actually, Milt wasn't really concerned with perfection or even being average. He just needed another parent to share the load.
Sensing interest, Milt continued: "My wife and I sell bottled water from our store for a living. Gus Nanton is a graphic designer-on his own, works out of his basement office. We know nothing about teamwork..
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great book and value. Read this book in one sitting and truly enjoyed it. Another Winner by Spencer.
Team building is one of those important things that too many managers overlook. Some even play one talented employee off the other, which can be counterproductive in the long run. This book makes important points, like: The team must have (and buy into) a shared purpose. It also recognizes the value of indivudual skills that people bring, and how they may not always fit into a general job title.
I found this book to be totally delightful as a model for how to be a better adult coach of a children's team. For many years, I have recommended that all those who want to learn how to be better leaders and managers begin by taking on these coaching chores. This is the first book I have ever seen that successfully captures the important principles of coaching these teams. This book deserves many more than five stars for that accomplishment! The benefits of that are many. First, the players will get a role model of how to cooperate in order to be more effective. Second, the coaches will learn how to be better leaders, and will be able to use that skill in other areas of their lives. Third, the parents will learn what to encourage their children to do in order to get the most from the team experience, and this will bring parents and their children closer together. The book's fable boils down to four key principles: (1) The team needs a shared purpose, values and goals. (2) Skills need to be developed individually that enhance the team's effectiveness. (3) Enhance team effectiveness by integrating the individual skills properly. (4) Repeatedly reward and recognize individuals for taking actions that enhance team effectiveness. A weakness of the fable is that it doesn't give enough attention to how to achieve the first principle for the typical team. My suggestion is that you poll your players before the first practice to find out what their purposes, goals, and values are. Then hold a meeting to discuss what you learned, and build a consensus from there. My experience has been that 99 percent of the players want to have fun, want to improve, and win at least a few games. Be sure to find out what they think is 'fun' because it's often different from what the coaches would assume. Fun usually turns out to be loosely supervised scrimmaging time. When that was the case, I ran a brief such scrimmage at the end of every practice until the last player was picked up by her or his parents. The other place where I would like to make a suggestion is about recognition. I was a coach for 14 years, and I found that giving individual awards to every player for every game worked very well. Everybody does something right at least once in a game. I would make a note of it, describe the reasons for each award, and hand out a little token at the end of each game for each such award. At the end of the season, the player could turn in these tokens for other forms of recognition. I also shouted out the person's name and award when they won one. That way, each child could be a winner every time we played, even if the team lost. And we did not lose very often. The players loved to win those awards for passing, defense, and offense. Scoring accounted for well less than 10 percent of the awards in my experience. This book has one of the best exercises I have ever seen for convincing people to work on team skills. You divide the players into the 'best' math students and the least good ones. Then you teach the least good ones how to cooperate to win an addition game. You let the 'best' math students struggle on their own. The least good ones will win almost e
This is another of those well-intentioned books, which can work superbly in an ideal workplace where management has earned the respect of their employees and 'High Five teamwork' is not just an empty phrase uttered at the occasional leadership class. My own experiences and those of many of my collegues is unfortunately not so rosy and having read the biting American satire 'MANAGEMENT BY VICE' by C.B. Don, I finally realized why this is so! I urge Human Resources leaders and managers to read through this book in addition to 'High Five' to really see which negative factors MUST be eliminated first from the work environment before the sound advice in 'High Five' can be implemented. Otherwise, you will experience the same pitfalls we did at our company and 'High Five' will become nothing more than: 'Teamwork spirit how you're disguised...you're a Farce and Impure, not 200 Proof; Diluted, you're naught, but a Management Spoof!' (Quote from 'Management by Vice').
This is a fine example of this kind of lesson by parable--and there are a lot of lessons here. I enjoyed the book, but it's not really my thing. My preference is for more real world books like the wonderful Shakelton's Way or the amazing, Filling the Glass: The Skeptic's Guide to Positive Thinking in Business. Both prove that a great business book can be entertaining as well as instructive without leaving the real world.