How to Destroy Teams and Become Losers

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Terrible teams are easy; great teams rare.

Great teams do two things. First, people working together achieve things individuals can’t; they achieve more together. Second,

Teams that work – work at working together.


I was a good player on my high school basketball team, not great. We always competed with each other for playing time and starting positions. It was the ultimate performance-based environment.


We shared passion to win and we frequently did. We won our way to the elite eight and the final four my junior and senior years, respectively. Even though I wasn’t the best player, I was the captain my senior year.

Internal competition:

Begrudging and belittling the achievements
of others destroys teams.

Too much competition within teams cripples competitive advantage. Great teammates celebrate each other’s success. If you outplayed me I was glad for the team and you. But, your great play inspired me to work my butt off.

Your best brings out my best.

Never let their best bring out your worst.

Internal competition works when:

  1. Team success is more important than individual success.
  2. Teammates push each other.
  3. Everyone’s success is celebrated.

Tell me how you respond to the success of others and I’ll tell you if you’re a great team player.

Internal competition goes bad when:

  1. Teammates begrudge and belittle the achievements of others.
  2. Coaches/leaders play favorites.
  3. Saboteurs hinder, undermine, and undercut the play of others.

Great teammates celebrate each other’s success.

*5 reasons teams blow up:

  1. No alignment of goals.
  2. No senses of ownership.
  3. Rigid application of the lessons of the past.
  4. Leadership’s unwillingness to eliminate bad performers.
  5. Lack of respect and trust.

*Five of the ten qualities of bad teams from, “Sharing the Sandbox,” by Dean Brenner.

What makes teams work?

What makes teams fail?

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