Day 1: Composition

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13 

TEAMWORK MULTIPLIES 

YOUR TALENT 

 

In the Academy Award–winning movie Rocky, boxer Rocky Balboa describes his relationship with 

his girlfriend, Adrian: “I’ve got gaps. She’s got gaps. But together we’ve got no gaps.” What a won- 

derful description of teamwork! It doesn’t matter how talented you may be, you have gaps. There 

are things you don’t do well. What’s the best way to handle your weaknesses? Partner with others 

who have strengths in those areas. If you want to do something really big, then do it as part of a 

team. 

 

DISCOVER 

 

What are your “gaps”?  ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  

How does being part of a team help to fill your gaps? 

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TEAMWORK TRUTHS 

 

A task doesn’t have to be complex to need teamwork. In 2001 when I wrote The 17 Indisputable Laws 

of Teamwork, the first law I included was the Law of Significance, which says, “One is too small a 

number to achieve greatness.” If you want to do anything of value, teamwork is required. 

 

Teamwork not only allows a person to do what he couldn’t otherwise do; it also has a com- 

pounding effect on all he possesses—including talent. If you believe one person is a work of God 

(which I do), then a group of talented people committed to working together is a work of art. What- 

ever your vision or desire, teamwork makes the dream work. 

 

What have you been able to accomplish as part of a team? 

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Working with other people toward a common goal is one of the most rewarding experiences of 

life. I’ve led or been part of many different kinds of teams—sports teams, work teams, business 

teams, ministry teams, communication teams, choirs, bands, committees, boards, you name it. I’ve 

observed teams of nearly every type in my travels around the world. And talking to leaders, devel- 

oping teams, counseling with coaches, and teaching and writing on teamwork have influenced my 

thinking when it comes to teams. What I’ve learned I want to share with you: 

 

1. Teamwork Divides the Effort and Multiplies the Effect 

 

Would you like to get better results from less work? I think everyone would. That’s what teamwork 

provides. In his book Jesus on Leadership, C. Gene Wilkes describes why teamwork is superior to 

individual effort: 

• Teams involve more people, thus affording more resources, ideas, and energy than an indi- 

vidual possesses. 

• Teams maximize a leader’s potential and minimize her weaknesses. Strengths and weaknesses 

are more exposed in individuals. 

• Teams provide multiple perspectives on how to meet a need or reach a goal, thus devising sev- 

eral alternatives for each situation. Individual insight is seldom as broad and deep as a group’s 

when it takes on a problem. 

• Teams share the credit for victories and the blame for losses. This fosters genuine humility and 

authentic community. Individuals take credit and blame alone. This fosters pride and some- 

times a sense of failure. 

• Teams keep leaders accountable for the goal. Individuals connected to no one can change the 

goal without accountability. 

• Teams can simply do more than an individual. 

 

It’s common sense that people working together can do more than an individual working alone. 

So why are some people reluctant to engage in teamwork? It can be difficult in the beginning. 

Teams don’t usually come together and develop on their own. They require leadership and cooper- 

ation. While that may be more work on the front end, the dividends it pays on the back end are 

tremendous and well worth the effort. 

 

What do you consider some of the pros and cons of being part of a team? 

 

2. Talent Wins Games, but Teamwork Wins Championships 

 

A sign in the New England Patriots’ locker room states, “Individuals play the game, but teams win 

championships.” Obviously the Patriot players understand this. Over a four-year period, they won 

the Super Bowl three times. 

 

Teams that repeatedly win championships are models of teamwork. For more than two decades, 

the Boston Celtics dominated the NBA. Their team has won more championships than any other in 

NBA history, and at one point during the fifties and sixties, the Celtics won eight championships in 

a row. During their run, the Celtics never had a player lead the league in scoring. Red Auerbach, 

who coached the Celtics and then later moved to their front office, always emphasized teamwork. 

He asserted, “One person seeking glory doesn’t accomplish much; everything we’ve done has been 

the result of people working together to meet our common goals.” 

 

It’s easy to see the fruit of teamwork in sports. But it is at least as important in business. Harold 

S. Geneen, who was director, president, and CEO of ITT for twenty years, observed, “The essence of 

leadership is the ability to inspire others to work together as a team—to stretch for a common 

objective.” If you want to perform at the highest possible level, you need to be part of a team. 

 

How does your level of work change when you are part of a team? 

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3. Teamwork Is Not About You 

 

The Harvard Business School recognizes a team as a small number of people with complementary 

skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they 

hold themselves mutually accountable. Getting those people to work together is sometimes a chal- 

lenge. It requires good leadership. And the more talented the team members, the better the lead- 

ership must be. The true measure of team leadership is not getting people to work. Neither is it get- 

ting people to work hard. The true measure of a leader is getting people to work hard together! 

 

I’ve studied exceptional team leaders and coaches. Here are what just a few say about getting 

people to work together: 

 

Paul “Bear” Bryant, legendary Alabama football coach: “In order to have a winner, the team must 

have a feeling of unity. Every player must put the team first ahead of personal glory.” 

 

Bud Wilkinson, author of The Book of Football Wisdom: “If a team is to reach its potential, each 

player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team.” 

 

Lou Holtz, coach of college football national championship teams: “The freedom to do your 

own thing ends when you have obligations and responsibilities. If you want to fail yourself— 

you can—but you cannot do your own thing if you have responsibilities to team members.” 

 

Michael Jordan, most talented basketball player of all time and six time world champion: 

“There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the 

time, those players aren’t willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, 

in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. 

One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual acco- 

lades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win 

championships.”¹ 

 

All great teams are the result of their players making decisions based on what’s best for the rest. 

That’s true in sports, business, the military, and volunteer organizations. And it’s true at every level, 

from the part-time support person to the coach or CEO. The best leaders also put their team first. 

C. Gene Wilkes observes, 

 

Team leaders genuinely believe that they do not have all the answers—so they do not insist on 

providing them. They believe they do not need to make all key decisions—so they do not do so. 

They believe they cannot succeed without the combined contributions of all the other members 

of the team to a common end—so they avoid any action that might constrain inputs or intim- 

idate anyone on the team. Ego is not their predominant concern. 

 

Highly talented teams possess players with strong egos. One secret of successful teamwork is 

converting individual ego into team confidence, individual sacrifice, and synergy. 

 

Pat Riley, NBA championship coach, says, “Teamwork requires that everyone’s efforts flow in a sin- 

gle direction. Feelings of significance happen when a team’s energy takes on a life of its own.” 

 

4. Great Teams Create Community 

 

All effective teams create an environment where relationships grow and teammates become con- 

nected to one another. To use a term that is currently popular, they create a sense of community. 

That environment of community is based on trust. Little can be accomplished without it. 

 

On good teams, trust is a nonnegotiable. On winning teams, players extend trust to one another. 

Initially that is a risk because their trust can be violated and they can be hurt. At the same time that 

they are giving trust freely, they conduct themselves in such a way to earn trust from others. They 

hold themselves to a high standard. When everyone gives freely and bonds of trust develop and are 

tested over time, players begin to have faith in one another. They believe that the person next to 

them will act with consistency, keep commitments, maintain confidences, and support others. The 

stronger the sense of community becomes, the greater their potential to work together. 

 

How do you develop trust with your teammates? 

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Developing a sense of community in a team does not mean there is no conflict. All teams expe- 

rience disagreements. All relationships have tension. But you can work them out. My friend Bill Hy- 

bels, who leads a congregation of more than twenty thousand people, acknowledges, 

 

The popular concept of unity is a fantasy land where disagreements never surface and contrary 

opinions are never stated with force. Instead of unity, we use the word community. We say, 

“Let’s not pretend we never disagree. We’re dealing with the lives of 16,000 people [at the time]. 

The stakes are high. Let’s not have people hiding their concerns to protect a false notion of 

unity. Let’s face the disagreement and deal with it in a good way.” 

 

The mark of community . . . is not the absence of conflict. It’s the presence of a reconciling spir- 

it. I can have a rough-and-tumble leadership meeting with someone, but because we’re com- 

mitted to the community, we can still leave, slapping each other on the back, saying, “I’m glad 

we’re still on the same team.” We know no one’s bailing out just because of a conflicting posi- 

tion. 

 

When a team shares a strong sense of community, team members can resolve conflicts without 

dissolving relationships. 

 

5. Adding Value to Others Adds Value to You 

 

“My husband and I have a very happy marriage,” a woman bragged. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do 

for him, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for me. And that’s the way we go through life—doing 

nothing for each other!” That kind of attitude is a certain road to disaster for any team—including a 

married couple. 

 

Too often people join a team for their personal benefit. They want a supporting cast so that they 

can be the star. But that attitude hurts the team. When even the most talented person has a mind to serve, special things can happen. Former NBA great Magic Johnson paraphrased John F. Kennedy 

when he stated, “Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your team- 

mates.” That wasn’t just talk for Johnson. Over the course of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, 

he started in every position during championship games to help his team. 

 

How are you currently adding value to those around you? 

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U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asserted, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here 

in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and 

achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and to impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” 

People who take advantage of others inevitably fail in business and relationships. If you desire to 

succeed, then live by these four simple words: add value to others. That philosophy will take you far. 

 

TALENT + TEAMWORK = A TALENT-PLUS PERSON 

PUTTING THE TALENT-PLUS FORMULA INTO ACTION 

 

All talented people have a choice to make: do their own thing and get all the credit, or do the team 

thing and share it. My observation is that not only do talented people accomplish more when work- 

ing with others, but they are also more fulfilled than those who go it alone. My hope is that you 

choose teamwork over solo efforts. If that is your desire, then do the following: 

 

1. Buy into the Law of Significance 

 

Earlier in this chapter I mentioned the Law of Significance from The 17 Indisputable Laws of Team- 

work: “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.” In 2002 when I was teaching on the laws, I 

challenged members of the audience of ten thousand: “Name one person in the history of mankind 

who alone, without the help of anyone, made a significant impact on civilization.” 

 

A voice from the crowd yelled, “Charles Lindbergh—he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a plane by 

himself.” 

 

The crowd cheered. 

 

“That’s true,” I responded, and the crowd cheered louder, thinking I had been stumped. 

 

“But did you know,” I continued, “that Ryan Aeronautical Engineering designed and built the 

plane? And did you know that ten millionaires financed the trip?” The crowd exploded. 

 

“Are there any more suggestions?” I asked. 

 

I want to give you the same challenge. Think of any significant accomplishment that appears to 

be a solo act. Then do some research and you will find that others worked with the individuals or 

supported them so that they could do what they did. No one does anything significant on his own. 

One is too small a number to achieve greatness. If you buy into that idea, then you will embrace the 

concept of teamwork. And that will be the foundation upon which you multiply your talent and take 

it to the highest level. No one can become a talent-plus person without it. 

 

2. Include a Team in Your Dream 

 

Journalist and radio host Rex Murphy asserts, “The successful attainment of a dream is a cart-and- 

horse affair. Without a team of horses, a cart full of dreams can go nowhere.” Teamwork gives you 

the best opportunity to turn your vision into reality. The greater the vision, the more need there is 

for a good team. But being willing to engage in teamwork is not the same as actively pursuing a 

team and becoming part of it. To succeed, you need to get on a team and find your best place in it. 

That may be as its leader, or it may not. Rudy Giuliani says, 

 

In reality, a leader must understand that success is best achieved through teamwork. From the 

moment you are put into a leadership position you must demonstrate ultimate humility. A lead- 

er must know his weaknesses in order to counterbalance them with the strengths of the team. 

When I became the Mayor of New York, I had both strengths and weaknesses. For instance, I 

did not have very much experience in economics. I found members for my team that had expe- 

rience and great talent in the field of economics. When every member of the team is operating in 

his or her strengths, your organization will flourish. When crisis comes you will have the people 

in place to manage every situation with excellence. 

 

If you’re not certain about where you ultimately belong on a team, don’t let that stop you from 

engaging in teamwork. Find others who are like-minded in their attitudes and passion, and join 

them. 

 

Review your list of strengths from the Introduction of this workbook. Based on this list, how can you 

add the most value to you current team project? If you are not already working in your area of strength, how can you offer your talents to the team? 

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3. Develop Your Team 

 

If you are a leader on your team, then you must make it your goal to develop your teammates or 

players. That process begins with having the right people on the team. It’s said that people are 

known by the company they keep. But it can also be said that a company is known by the people it 

keeps. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, observed, “If you pick the right 

people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings—and put compensation as a carrier be- 

hind it—you almost don’t have to manage them.” That’s why Patrick Emington said, “It is the great- 

est folly to talk of motivating anybody. The real key is to help others to unlock and direct their deep- 

est motivators.” 

 

The process continues with your doing whatever you can to help people grow and reach their 

potential. You must do your best to see the abilities of others and help them recognize and develop 

those abilities. That’s what all good leaders do. They don’t just become talent-plus people. They 

help others to become talent-plus people. 

 

4. Give the Credit for Success to the Team 

 

The final step to becoming a talent-plus person in the area of teamwork is to give as much of the 

credit as you can to the people on the team. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins points out that 

the leaders of the best organizations, what he calls “level-5 leaders,” are characterized by humility 

and a tendency to avoid the spotlight. Does that mean those leaders aren’t talented? Of course not. 

Does it mean they have no egos? No. It means they recognize that everyone on the team is impor- 

tant, and they understand that people do better work and do it with greater effort when they are 

recognized for their contribution. 

 

If you consider what top leaders and former CEOs say about this, you’ll recognize a pattern: 

 

Ray Gilmartin of Merck: “If I were to put someone on the front cover of Business Week or For- 

tune, it would be . . . the person who heads up our research organization, not me. Or I would 

put a team of people on the cover.” 

 

Lou Gerstner of IBM: “I haven’t done this [created the company’s turnaround]. It’s been 

280,000 people who have done it. We took a change in focus, a change in preoccupation, and a 

great talented group of people . . . and changed the company.” 

 

Dan Tully of Merrill Lynch: “It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t seek all the credit. 

 

I find nothing is really one person’s idea.” 

 

Walter Shipley of Citibank: “We have 68,000 employees. With a company this size, I’m not ‘run- 

ning the business.’ . . . My job is to create the environment that enables people to leverage each 

other beyond their own individual capabilities.” 

 

If you want to help your team go farther and help team members to sharpen their talent and maxi- 

mize their potential, when things don’t go well, take more than your fair share of the blame, and 

when things go well, give all of the credit away. 

 

DEVELOP 

 

For the next two weeks, make a commitment to yourself to take no credit for anything that goes 

right. Praise your employees, coworkers, colleagues, and family members for their contributions. 

Note the difference it makes in their performance and your relationship with them. I believe that 

once you’ve tried it, you will enjoy giving the credit away so much that it will become a regular 

part of your life. 

 

One person who has captured my attention lately has been Bono, singer for the rock band U2. I 

must admit, I’m late in discovering him. His music isn’t really my cup of tea. But his passion, lead- 

ership, and activism really impress me. In 2005, he was named a Person of the Year by Time maga- 

zine, along with Bill and Melinda Gates. 

 

There’s no doubting Bono’s talent. His success in the musical world is obvious. He has penned 

many hit songs, and U2, which has been together for thirty years, is one of the most successful 

bands in history. Together the band members have sold more than 170 million albums.² 

 

In recent years, Bono has expanded his efforts beyond the world of music. He has become an 

advocate for African aid and economic development. And he’s not just a celebrity lending his name 

to a cause. Senator Rick Santorum said of him, “Bono understands the issues better than 99 per- 

cent of the members of Congress.”³ And Bono has relentlessly worked at partnering with other people to further the causes he’s passionate about. He has met with heads of state, economists, 

industry leaders, celebrities—anyone who has the potential to add value to the people he desires to 

help. 

 

Where did Bono learn to rely on others, to be part of a team, and to enlist the aid of others? Rock 

stars are supposed to be self-absorbed, iconoclastic, isolated, and indifferent to others. That is 

what happens to many famous people, and it’s the reason many music groups don’t stay together. 

Bono comments, 

 

There’s moments when people are so lost in their own selves, the demands of their own life, 

that it’s very hard to be in a band . . . People want to be lords of their own domain. I mean, 

everybody, as they get older . . . rids the room of argument. You see it in your family, you see it 

with your friends, and they get a smaller and smaller circle of people around them, who agree 

with them. And life ends up with a dull sweetness.⁴ 

 

What is Bono’s secret, after having been a rock star for more than twenty-five years? 

 

His teamwork with the band. Bono recognizes his need for others and, in fact, says he can’t 

imagine having been a solo artist. He admits, 

 

The thing that’ll make you less and less able to realize your potential is a room that’s empty of 

argument. And I would be terrified to be on my own as a solo singer, not to have a band to 

argue with. I mean, I surround myself with argument, and a band, a family of very spunky kids, 

and a wife who’s smarter than anyone. I’ve got a lot of very smart friends, a whole extended fam- 

ily of them . . . You’re as good as the arguments you get. So maybe the reason why the band 

hasn’t split up is that people might get this: that even though they’re only one quarter of U2, 

they’re more than they would be if they were one whole of something else. I certainly feel that 

way.⁵ 

 

I can’t think of a better way to say it myself. A talented person who is part of a team— in the right 

place on the right team—becomes more than he ever could on his own. That’s what it means to be 

a talent-plus person. 

 

How do you think of your talent? Is it something you own or something on loan? Why do you desire 

success? Do your goals primarily benefit you, or are you simply an instrument being used to benefit 

others? Do some soul-searching. If you think everything is all about you, you will never be a good 

team player, and you will never reach your full potential. 

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EPILOGUE 

THE LAST WORD 

ON TALENT 

 

Early in 2006, I read a report from Money magazine that claimed we were experiencing a worldwide 

talent shortage: 

 

Zurich, Switzerland (Reuters)—Employers are having difficulty finding the right people to fill jobs 

despite high unemployment in Europe and the United States, a survey by U.S.-based staffing firm 

Manpower showed Tuesday. 

 

The survey conducted late in January showed that 40 percent of nearly 33,000 employers in 23 

countries across the world were struggling to find qualified job candidates. 

 

“The talent shortage is becoming a reality for a larger number of employers around the world,” 

Manpower’s CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Joerres said.¹ 

 

And what was the number one talent shortage, according to the report? Salespeople. Every few 

years, we hear similar statements about certain professions. But the reality is that there never has 

been nor will there ever be a talent shortage. Talent is God-given. As long as there are people in the 

world, there will be plenty of talent. What’s missing are people who have made the choices neces- 

sary to maximize their talent. Employers are really looking for talent-plus people. By now I trust you 

agree that the key choices we make—apart from the natural talent we already possess—set us apart 

from others who have talent alone. 

 

William Danforth, who became the owner of the Ralston Purina Company, found a secret of suc- 

cess when he was a young man. He said, 

 

When I was sixteen, I came to St. Louis to attend the Manual Training School. It was a mile from 

my boardinghouse to the school. A teacher who lived nearby and I would start for school at the 

same time every morning. But he always beat me there. Even back then I didn’t want to be beat- 

en, and so I tried all the shortcuts. Day after day, however, he arrived ahead of me. Then I dis- 

covered how he did it. When he came to each street crossing he would run to the other curb. 

The thing that put him ahead of me was just “that little extra.” 

 

Talent-plus people give a little extra. You see it in the choices they make that multiply and maxi- 

mize their talent. Because they have given more to develop their talent, they are able to give more to 

others with their talent. 

 

I want to encourage you to make the thirteen choices described in this book. And every day re- 

mind yourself about how these choices can help you: 

1. Belief lifts my talent. 

2. Passion energizes my talent. 

3. Initiative activates my talent. 

4. Focus directs my talent. 

5. Preparation positions my talent. 

6. Practice sharpens my talent. 

7. Perseverance sustains my talent. 

8. Courage tests my talent. 

9. Teachability expands my talent. 

10. Character protects my talent. 

11. Relationships influence my talent. 

12. Responsibility strengthens my talent. 

13. Teamwork multiplies my talent. 

 

Whatever talent you have you can improve. Never forget that the choices you make in the end 

make you. 

 

Choose to become a talent-plus person. If you do, you will add value to yourself, add value to 

others, and accomplish much more than you dreamed was possible. 


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