The French term “esprit de corps” means a feeling of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty shared by members of a particular group. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, partly because my 12-year-old son, Cooper, recently joined a new basketball team.
The team is led by four outstanding coaches, one of whom is a former Division 1 student-athlete and a retired NFL linebacker. Coach Terrence speaks with authority from experience competing at the highest level in sports. I especially appreciate the attention he pays to camaraderie and what it means for the boys to be selfless and a part of something bigger than themselves.
During each practice, the boys line up beneath the basket behind the baseline and each member of the team is called one at a time to the free-throw line to take two shots. Rather than talk amongst themselves while awaiting their turn to shoot or, worse yet, critique their teammates between shots, the boys have been instructed to approach the shooter, make eye contact, slap hands, and offer verbal encouragement using the teammate’s name after each shot – whether or not a basket was made.
I wonder what would happen if more managers followed Coach Terrence’s example in the workplace by discouraging exclusive, divisive, or territorial cliques and posturing (what legendary NBA coach, Pat Riley, refers to as “the disease of me”), encouraging eye contact and the use of names, subordinating criticism to encouragement, and even offering high-fives or “knuckles” every now and then?
Although it’s early in the season, after four games, Cooper’s team remains undefeated. What does being undefeated look like in your business? Do you like to win? Would you like to win more often? If so, give serious thought to how your sophisticated adult workgroup can apply the example of my 12-year-old’s basketball team: conveying mutual respect, supporting one another (no matter what), and embodying pride, fellowship, and common loyalty to a shared goal or purpose.
Update: As of April 16th, the team remains undefeated at 7-0.
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