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September 28, 2015

Are You a Family or Team?

We often say that we want our team to be like a family. But just because you are a family doesn’t mean you are a great team.

Coach Hank Janczyk and his Gettysburg Lacrosse team won 20 straight games this past season. When I asked him what happened, he said, "You know Jon, I realized that before the season we were a family. We loved and cared about one another. We had strong bonds and great relationships. But we weren’t a great team. Our guys made excuses for each other. They covered for each other when a teammate didn’t do the right thing. They loved hanging out together but they didn’t bring out the best in each other on the field."

"So how did you change this?" I asked.

Hank said, "I thought about my life and realized that I had family members who I have loved dearly but wouldn’t necessarily want them on my team. I knew that we couldn’t just be a great family. We had to become a great team too."

A few weeks later while talking to a client, a large, successful family owned business, I heard the same issue. I was preparing to speak at their annual leadership meeting and asked them to share their biggest challenge. They said, "We have such a wonderful family culture and it's what makes us special but it’s also a challenge for us to hold each other accountable as we grow." Because I had just spoken to Hank I knew exactly what they needed to hear and what I should tell them at their meeting. Thank you Hank!

Just because you are a family doesn't mean you are a great team. To be a great team you hold each other accountable. You challenge each other to improve and make each other better. You set the standards and expect each other to rise up to meet these expectations. If someone is not giving their maximum effort or their performance is subpar you have a crucial conversation with them and challenge and encourage them through the process.

If someone is facing a personal challenge then of course you support and comfort them through it as both a family and team member. But professionally, you don’t allow your team to be comfortable with the status quo. The world is changing and to thrive you must change too. Discomfort leads to growth and so you keep raising the bar and pushing your team out of your comfort zone while pursuing excellence and growth together.

People say it's not easy to hold your team members accountable but part of being a family who loves one another means you help each person reach their full potential. My wife is not afraid to call me out and she makes me better. My children make me better. And if you read Training Camp you know I push my kids to be their best. Because I love them I won't let them settle. Because I love them I won't make it easy. I know that we can't just be a great family. We also have to be a great team.

It's not family or team. It's family and team.

Loving each other, holding each other accountable and making each other better makes you a better family and team.


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