“Are you a team player, or a solo performer?”

Individual team members normally focus on their own strengths, abilities and how they believe success should look. Most of the time this leads to everyone pulled in a different direction.

Great leaders know it is their task to inspire individual team members to check their ego at the door, set aside personal agendas and cultivate a passion for team solutions and team wins over personal ambition.

After World War II, Chester Nimitz, chief of Naval Operations, wanted to keep alive public interest in naval aviation by forming the Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. To this day, the Blue Angels’ objective and goals are still very clear:

* They select only qualified candidates who consistently operate at peak performance.
* After careful screening, a pilot must receive 16 votes from existing members. If one pilot votes no, the candidate is eliminated.

No questions or explanations are required—that’s the level of trust and respect the members have for each other’s judgment.

As a Blue Angel, your teammates become your life. Making the squad isn’t a one-shot deal either. You are responsible for playing your part by demonstrating value and pursuing excellence on a daily basis. You have to earn the right to wear the crest. Nothing short of total commitment is accepted.

So, would you qualify today to be a Blue Angel? Are you a solo performer, or a team player? Are you prepared, loyal and reliable? When the chips are down can others count on you to sacrifice your own interests ahead of the others?

My definition of great teamwork: “The visible illustration of people who are united with the same purpose.” Great leaders know that eighty percent of their time is spent clarifying their organization’s purpose and building a team to pursue it with excellence.

Great organizations are constantly building and fine-tuning a culture of unselfish teamwork, people passionate about working together for the same cause. A great culture trumps a great strategy every time. No one has ever climbed Mt Everest alone.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

What team member have you “picked up” lately?