A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other. – Simon Sinek

team play

Friends, I would like to share my personal experience. I played volleyball with my colleagues for the first time as a team, and it was fun and fantastic. After learning a few basic shots on how to serve, lift and pass the ball, we started playing. We are a 5 person team taking different positions on the court. Once we receive the ball, we have up to three chances to handle and direct the ball to the other court without grounding on our side. The rule is no person should touch the ball twice consecutively; he/she should either pass to a team member or direct to the other side over the net to ground it.  All other team members are focusing on the ball, often shifting their positions with respect to the ball to take action. I constantly hear each team player calling other players name and asking him to touch the ball. You gain a point if other team fails to prevent the ball from grounding. I noticed when you pass the ball among your team players and attack for second or third pass, you have much control, and you can direct the ball precisely to the other court and increase the chance of gaining a point.

Key Observations:

  • I see every player in the team is relying on and trusting the other player he/she will take the ball when you pass.
  • Other players are always monitoring the ball and are ready to take action immediately.
  • All players in the team have a common goal to handle the ball properly, ground it the other side and gain a point, absolutely committed.
  • Sense of appreciation for each team member and genuine happiness among all the players.

Somewhere along the game, I realized I could relate these observations in my day-to-day life at work where we work with people. We have similar goals on delivering projects while meeting deadlines. We can also make this experience fun and fantastic. If you see how the ball must be sent to the other side of the court in only three times from one side, it is similar to how we have project deadlines.  Just as how a single person cannot hold the ball twice consecutively, any single team member cannot be overloaded with all the tasks and should trust his/her team members to handle the work. It is a great trust you are transferring, and the member who is ready to grab has even more responsibility to do their job and pass it on to another member.  Here, you trust the person more than any specific skill set. When we have this sense of trust among everyone we work with, our team achieves great results. Similarly, how players are shifting their places with respect to ball, can be compared to how each person takes a different role depending on the requirements.  When you win, all the team members share this genuine happiness, which is much bigger as it is a greater win with the team than a one person show winning by chance.

Losing a point can be related to missing any deadlines.  If we fail in sending the ball to the other side, every team member is accountable, and it is never a single person’s fault. When the ball is arriving into the court, a player might have pushed his limits to lift the ball and prevent it from grounding at first place. When he attempted, it went in a different direction where other players might not be expecting and the second player tries to reach and lift the ball. Everyone in the team is trying their best to lift and send the ball but it might fail, and it is not just a single person held accountable.  When working as a team with those whom you trust and who trust you, you always have support in solving problems, and as a team, we reach more optimal solutions.

team work, happy people

Above is a simple scenario where a person is trying to solve a problem how he can connect and store those triangle pieces with minimum area. You shouldn’t stack them as it might cause scratches or it cannot tolerate weight on it.  From the picture in left half, one person is thinking hard to solve this. Other team member got an idea and they worked together, so they numbered the pieces and formed a square.  Now for a single problem two brains are working collectively and got an optimal solution. The result is both are happy for solving it and its a collective thought of two people.



“When I was reading the above story and discussing with my friends, colleagues, I observed some interesting facts why we are not like a team in Volleyball. One thing I heard is each person can have different motives and targets where he wants to reach in his career and may want to showcase he is critical to the project and might work in their own silo. I feel this is where leaders must step in and create an open environment and set up team goals and individual goals. Goals should be measured against the product and his own performance rather than others. These goals should be made visible to everyone in the team and it creates a transparent environment, meaning they can help themselves and others to achieve goals. They are not competing anymore, and this helps them to build a sense of trust and succeed as a team.”