When company culture plays ball with Team Intelligence

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I met with an extraordinary Manager the other day. He told me about his journey as a leader including his triumphs, failures and lessons. Lessons that have shaped his leadership style today where he “treats his team like a college football team”. It related so well to our work in Team Intelligence™.

See,  American college football coaches, as this Manager explained, have their players for a period of four years. The players are usually on a scholarship while studying professions like medicine, architecture, or law and if they don’t keep their grades up they can’t play. For the coach, as their leader, this means being invested in the player’s future beyond football, beyond the four years together. They need to ensure the player receives consistent all round development so that they graduate with excellent personal growth, knowledge and skills.  

What I loved firstly about this was how it reminded me of the stories I’ve heard about American Football teams using philosophies from the book The Slight Edge, but also, what a great leadership style! So on point. It talks to everything we do when we talk to teams and leaders about being Team Intelligent.

Team Intelligence is about understanding the whole picture and the big picture.

Much like a college football coach with his players, teams who are Team Intelligent know and understand each other broadly. They know what makes each other tick, what development is needed, what they need to stop doing, start doing or continue to do. This powerful data helps everyone work together on a whole other level with benefits across the organisation and for the individuals in it. It keeps people engaged and non-complacent by reflecting their social and family culture and incorporating what matters to them. Unlike a family, however, there is more accountability in teams like this.

When the coach has your back

I didn’t ask if this Manager has even told his team about his leadership style, but I’m guessing, probably not. This is such a shame because it means his team members don’t get to see all of the wonderful work their leader is doing for their benefit. I will get back to him on this as our discussions in team intelligence progress. It’s definitely a common challenge for leaders: being unable to communicate their aspirations to be a great leader for the team.  

The thing is this only creates a disconnect, but it’s so easy to fix – communicate! Talk! Leaders need to lead by telling people what their dreams and goals are for themselves and the team, as a whole and individually.  

How awesome would it feel to know your leader had your back? To understand the context from how they are leading. How would that affect or direct your work? Imagine the level of trust it would generate?

Trust is an essential component of a highly successful team. Teams who trust each other are more productive, provide excellent service, and feel a higher degree of loyalty. There’s a little insight into what Team Intelligence™ looks like right there.

There are so many different leadership styles; so many ways we can lead a team to success, but there are some fundamentals that work across most teams because people are people.

Valuing contributions

Teams are people who want to be valued, who want to feel like they are contributing, and that they are great contributors to the business, as well as other people’s successes. People are also more than their role, more than a position. That’s why if you want to play ball well, everyone on the team needs to look beyond the positions.


Like any cultural development, weaving Team Intelligence™ into the fabric of an organisation takes time.

You’ll need to have faith in the process, and as Jeff Olson of The Slight Edge explains, at some point there will be a breakthrough. Just take the steps. We recently wrote about 5 Ways to Build Team Intelligence and Trust which might help.

What is one thing you can start doing today to give your team an edge with Team Intelligence?

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