What a week for the US team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup!  Today’s game against England was a nail biter. Just before the start, it was announced star player, Megan Rapinoe who scored all four goals in previous games, was out with an injury. How would the team perform and succeed without her?

It’s the perfect week for me to write about teams. As we can clearly see from the results – England -1 and USA – 2, a great team that works well together makes everybody a star. There’s this whole magic around one team member passing the ball—proverbial or otherwise—to another and the other person completing the play so they both look awesome. It’s even more thrilling because of the beauty of the teamwork. But building a great team is work. So what do you have to do?

First, communicate.

You’re undoubtedly sick of hearing it, but it’s true. Communication is the first rule of any team, whether work related or personal. As I watched the game, I notice the players talking, signaling and sometimes shouting to each other. Team members must stay connected, so they are interacting continuously. It reminded me of the kitchen of busy restaurants on a Friday night. The more you communicate, the better you communicate, the easier it is to use shorthand to get the message across quickly and take action. If somebody’s blocking communication—in some subtler form of sticking fingers in the ears and saying “Lalalalala”—because they don’t like who’s in charge or they don’t approve of the direction you’re going, your team is going to miss the shot and lose the game.

Second, communicate.  

Okay, just kidding.  Well kinda.  Communication is super important.  Not really, it is.   Okay, not kidding.  Communication is paramount.

The real second, trust.

You have to know that when you pass the ball, your team members are going to knock themselves out to gain control and get it where it needs to go. Sometimes, the players didn’t even look at each other before they passed the ball, because they just trusted that their team mates would be where they needed to be. If one team member works hard to meet a deadline and another one lets it slide, they can lose. If one team member waits days to return a client’s phone call, the whole team is assumed to be lax. A team wins a championship…or loses it.

Third, celebrate.

Celebrate successes together. I was on my feet multiple times during the game. The crowd I was with went wild, screaming, high-fiving like we were actually participating. It feels great to have your whole team celebrate when things go well. Celebrate launching the product to market and don’t forget to relive great moments in the process when one or a few team members pulled out a great play. Celebrate your best day ever. Celebrate the feedback card from the customer who really appreciated the employee’s outstanding customer service during the busy holiday season.

So here’s to successful teams on and off the field. Now get ready for Sunday’s game.  Go USA!

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