Aim High

A college professor prepared a test for his soon to be graduating seniors.  The test questions were divided into three categories and the students were instructed to choose questions from only one of the categories.  The first category of questions was the hardest and worth fifty points.  The second, which was easier, was worth forty points.  The third, the simplest, was worth thirty points.

Upon completion of the test, students who had chosen the hardest fifty-point questions were given As.  The students who had chosen the forty-point questions received Bs.  Those who settled for the easiest thirty-pointers were given Cs.

The students were frustrated with the grading of their papers and asked the professor what he was looking for.  The professor leaned over the podium, smiled, and explained, “I wasn’t testing your book knowledge.  I was testing your aim.”

An anonymous writer once commented, “Make no small plans for they have no power to stir your soul.”  Robert Kriegel put it this way, “The key is to have a dream that inspires us to go beyond our limits.”  Not only are people short on dreams but even those with dreams often set their sights low enough to protect themselves from failure.

To stay on your course for continuous self-improvement and the benefits that will be attracted to you and your business—AIM HIGH!

Proven Use of Team Roles

Dr. Meredith Belbin defined a team role as “a tendency to behave, contribute an interrelate with others in aparticular way.”

He named nine such team roles that underlie team success. It is important to emphasize that these are not set instone behavioral patterns of individuals, rather these are preferences and attitudes team members will assume in agiven team situation.

Therefore a certain individual might perform a certain role within one team and accomplish a different role within another team. Often however individuals do have a tendency to fill a certain rolewithin all the teams that they are a part of or at least strive to fill this preferred role.

Remember: Belbin asserts that when a team is performing at its best, one finds that each team member has clear responsibilities. Also noticeable is that every Belbin role needed to achieve the team’s goalis being performed fully and well. However it is likely that a team will fall short of its full potential not because skillsare lacking but because the Belbin roles aren’t harmonized across the team.

Balanced Teams

Teams become unbalanced when all team members carry out the same behavioral team role. When team members have similar strengths and weaknesses this can create problems. If the strengths arethe same they may compete instead of collaborate.

With this information in mind, the team leader together with the team can implement the model and investigatethe team members preferred roles as well as explore the roles which are missing.

By understanding your role within a particular team, you can develop your strengths and manage yourweaknesses as a team member, and so improve your contribution to the team.

Belbin’s Team Roles Model

Belbin identified nine team roles and he categorized those roles into three groups:

  • Action Oriented
  • People Oriented
  • Thought Oriented

The nine team roles divided into the three groups are:

Action Oriented Roles:

Shaper (SH)

Shapers are people who challenge the team to improve. The Shaper is the one who shakes thingsup to make sure that all possibilities are considered and that the team does not become complacent.

Implementer (IMP)

Implementers are the people who get things done. They turn the team’s ideas and concepts into practical actions and plans.

Completer-Finisher (CF)

Completer-Finishers are the people who see that projects are completed thoroughly.

People Oriented Roles:

Coordinator (CO)

Coordinators are the ones who take on the traditional team-leader role and have also been referred to asthe delegate.

Team Worker (TW)

Team Workers are the people who provide support and make sure that people within the team are working togethereffectively.

Resource Investigator (RI)

Resource Investigators are innovative and curious. They explore available options; develop contacts, and negotiate for resources on behalf of the team.

Thought Oriented Roles:

Plant (PL)

The Plant is the creative innovator who comes up with new ideas and approaches. They thriveon praise but criticism is especially hard for them to deal with.

Monitor-Evaluator (ME)

Monitor-Evaluators are best at analyzing and evaluating ideas that other people (oftenPlants) come up with. These people are shrewd and objective and they carefully weigh the pros and cons of all theoptions before coming to a decision.

Specialist (SP)

Specialists are people who have specialized knowledge that is needed to get the job done. Theypride themselves on their skills and abilities, and they work to maintain their professional status.
In finding roles for actual or potential team members keep the above in mind. When a person has guidance on what role or roles (you can play more than one at a time) he or she can play for a team they will have clarity. With clarity they can take steps and provide thinking to fulfill their role, thus helping the team. They now have purpose.

And with purpose, it is much easier for a team member to contribute to achieving the team’s goals. Also, I have found this process to be liberating. You have a specific role or roles and you understand, instead of worrying, how you can make a positive contribution to achieving what the team is tasked to accomplish.

Preparation, Failure, Opportunity

The game was tight. The lead had gone back and forth. And, there was a lot on the line. This was the Men’s AAU Basketball championship game for the greater Denver area.

As the time wound down on the game clock our team had the final possession with less than ten seconds left. My team was down by one point. One of us would take the final shot. If it went in, we won. And if it didn’t, all those championship dreams that we had been harboring since the beginning of the tournament a couple of weeks before would be dashed.

I always loved basketball. I was not good enough in high school to make the varsity. Yet, in college, I had grown four inches and had kept playing and practicing. I kept dreaming that someday I would be good enough to play on a high level.

Now I was in graduate business school at the University of Denver and had become good enough to play on a very good AAU basketball team. We trained and worked out daily. The players in our league were either former college players or players who had played professionally at one time. The competition and skill levels were extremely high.

On our team all the starters had been Division 1 scholarship basketball players, the highest level of college basketball, with one exception, me. As we took our final timeout, we knew that one of us would be taking that final shot. Who would that be?

We didn’t know the answer to that question. We would in bounds the ball from underneath the basket and our center, if he had a layup he would take it, if not he would pass the ball out to one of the corners where myself and our other guard would be.

We got the ball to our center and it looked like he was going to be tied up and not get a shot off. With less than five seconds to go, he was able to pass the ball to the corner, my corner. I was over twenty feet away from the basket. I got the ball and started to take a jump shot. I am six feet two inches. Bearing down on me and jumping at me was a defender who was six feet six inches.

As I released the ball all I knew was that he hadn’t blocked it. I did not see the ball’s flight or see what happened after that. He came crashing into me with such force that it knocked me off my feet and had me sliding backwards into the stands.

Both of us ended up in a heap. I could hear the loud cheers of the crowd! Who were they cheering for? Which team had won? What had happened? Then our center and the rest of my teammates were surrounding me, picking me up and congratulating me. My shot, that I never saw, had gone in. We had won the game and the championship.

At the time, I did not realize the impact this moment had on me. I had played and worked at basketball for almost 20 years with a great deal more failure than success. Yet, all my preparation paid off in that moment of victory. There are many life lessons I took away from that game. I had always heard that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I certainly felt fortunate to make the winning shot, yet it was all my preparation that allowed me to take advantage of that opportunity.

There were more positive impacts over the years, that positively supported me in many areas. First, was the importance of having a great team, not just in terms of ability, but our chemistry where we were willing to blend our individual talents together to create something bigger than any one of us could accomplish on our own, a great team.

Second, was that failures are the necessary stepping stones to success. I came to understand that I am not judged by the number of times I failed. I was cut from more teams than I made. I am judged by my successes and those come from my ability to find a path up from failure and to keep on trying.

I have discovered that when I keep trying in spite of failure, and keep preparing, that I increase the odds of success when the right opportunity comes along. When you do the preparation, you too will find the opportunities to make your game winning shots.