The Anatomy of a Team

From head to toe, teams can be tricky to navigate. A mix of personalities and agendas can make team-building a mighty feat. And it can also become a task that is not for the faint of heart. It can also be a completely beautiful yet complex process of discovery.

I have spent countless hours with teams of all shapes and sizes, from sports to schools to corporations to musicians, all with one goal in mind. To come together surrounding their specific mission. And whatever that was, to realize that with many different people involved, the only way to really get past the survival mode is to learn how to thrive together. That takes a special effort and a whole lot of patience and understanding. And none of that can ever take place without first surrounding oneself with awareness.

Breaking down the anatomy of a team seems at first, a simple task. But all the moving parts have a place, and if they are not pieced together properly, the puzzle will always be unfinished.

So let’s work our way from the bottom up in five different, yet each as important as the other, segments:

The feet of the team are those who don’t want or need to be in the spotlight. They are the movers, the doers and the very people who make things happen on the ground. You often hear the words “grassroots” or “boots on the ground.” These are the people who move the whole body forward. They are given direction. They go get things done. They are open channels of communication that can flow easily from say to do. They want to be involved because they are the silent workhorses who are finishers. They enjoy seeing something to completion. They are essential to movement and to growth. You go nowhere without them.

The core or the body of the team is made up of the bulk of the team. These are the ones that keep the team together. They do the bulk of the work, made up mostly of communications, designing, combining efforts, planning and performing tasks. These are the masses, the ones who churn out projects and get work done on a collaborative side. They want to be involved because they love to be a part of something. They are the average every day players. Without them, you wouldn’t have a team. Often overlooked in importance, these are usually the most important people to intertwine into the weave. They are the glue that makes the team fall into stride, together.

The hands are the organizational players. They are the ones who take care of the paperwork, organizing events, dotting I’s and crossing T’s. They are oftentimes also the behind the scenes types who just like to organize. There is a HUGE place for these people on every winning team. They need structure, as every team does. And these people will stop at nothing to make sure the team succeeds as they create a strong outline of what steps need to be taken to thrive and succeed. Meticulous in note-taking and delivering, you are blessed when you have a few of these players who work well together.

The Heart is made up of those few players who rise up from the core, the ones who bring every ounce of passion and drive to be outspoken leaders. Being an outspoken leader doesn’t always mean they need to speak loudly. But it means they need to lead loudly. By example, by words and actions, the heart of the team is the rally cry. They will always fire up the rest of the team by exuding the kind of passion they do. You don’t win without them showing up.

The head of the team consists of the mind, the eyes and the mouth. This is the leadership and the part of the team who thinks the vision, sees the vision and speaks the vision. They can be different people or they can be all in one. Without these players, there is no game. And obviously there is no need for a team. These people understand the big picture and can see if before it is even tangible. And their ability to listen to the team, and convey the vision is critical to their success.

A winning team can never survive as a body without a head or feet without a heart. And it is could never be resting on hands alone. A winning team consists of all of these things… And the understanding that without each piece, even in our less than shining moments, we would be lacking greatly. There is room for us all. As long as we realize where we are best utilized. And often times, it’s not where we once thought or where we are comfortable, it’s where we actually shine.
Hint hint, clue clue…. That’s the secret.

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