[October 10, 2018] A friend of mine since childhood, Jerry, seemed like a contradiction in his psychological makeup. He was fiercely independent yet he was also a dedicated team player. Many of his friends, like me, questioned how a leader can be both independent and a team player at the same time.
Here is how he did it!
Fierce independence, he told me, “does not mean being a loner or working out of your parent’s basement.” It also doesn’t mean being a social outcast or even being successful by not relying on others. Independence means that you personally do not need the constant attention or help of others to make you a good person. You possess the character to know the difference between right and wrong and also only ask for help from others when you are in desperate need.
This independence he was talking about meant being financially secure, emotionally strong, family-centered, religiously committed, and team dedicated. To Jerry, this meant that he worked hard growing up to gain social skills and job technical abilities necessary to succeed in life. True, he had coaches and mentors that guided him in the right direction. And, his parents knew that raising an independent child meant taking risks to outsource some of his upbringings to dedicated teachers and coaches.
“Individual talents get magnified many times over through the collective lens of an effective team.” – Dalal Haldeman, PhD, former VP of Marketing at Johns Hopkins Medicine
Being a team player meant that Jerry understood that to make yourself a better at it requires that everyone work together on the road to a common goal. It meant that you take care of each other but understand that each person is an individual who was responsible for both developing their own talents. He deeply believed in the team and would sacrifice it all for them if he were asked.
He once told me that talent and skill may win games, but teamwork wins championships. It’s the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. The basis of being a team player – and this is where Jerry really shined – was in the building of trust and confidence. Jerry chose teamwork over his own personal ambition. Very few can set that aside for the team and it explains the success that he garnered in his lifetime.