“March Madness,” which encapsulates the championship tournament for College Basketball, excited many sports fans last month. We were reminded of how important teamwork is to achieving success on the court and winning games. Championship teams not only have gifted and talented individual players, but all the players on the team recognize that one person alone will not win games or get the team to the top level. When the entire team is focused on the same goal or desired result, and not just their own individual performance, each person will work hard to use their skills and abilities to make the team better.
At Solutions for Change we understand teamwork and seek to practice it when it comes to the much more significant contest of solving family homelessness. This is much more important than a game since the lives of families and the future for kids lies in the balance. Genuine teamwork must be value-based and it will flourish around the practices of servant leadership. The following principles of teamwork will help all of us as an organization and as a community achieve success in our common goal of solving family homelessness.
Communicate constructively and positively: Teams need people who speak up and express their thoughts clearly, directly and honestly. Talk straight! Communicate with respect for others and for the work of the team.
Listen actively: Teams need members who can absorb, understand, and consider ideas and points of view from other people without debating and arguing every point, yet can also receive criticism without reacting defensively. For communication and problem solving to be effective, team members need the discipline to listen first and speak second so that meaningful dialogue results.
Demonstrate reliability: Teams need to be able to count on teammates to work hard, meet commitments and follow through on assignments. Consistency is the key.
Share openly and willingly: Team members are willing to share information, knowledge, and experience. They take the initiative to keep other team members informed.
Work at problem-solving: Teams need members who are problem-solvers, not problem-dwellers, problem-blamers, or problem-avoiders. Good team players are willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solutions-oriented manner.
Exhibits flexibility: Teams often deal with changing conditions, and often create changes themselves. Remember we are Solutions for Change! Good team players roll with the punches; they adapt to ever-changing situations. They don’t complain or get stressed out because something new is being tried or some new direction is being set. Strong team players are firm in their thoughts yet open to what others have to offer.
Playing on basketball teams that share the ball, efficiently run the plays, adapt to the pressure defense, encourage and inspire fellow teammates, is the most fun and usually the most successful. The same is true when it comes to working together around a social and moral imperative to solve family homelessness. We believe that the principles and practices of Servant Leadership, joined with the values and mission of Solutions for Change, provide a framework for a team that can defeat the impacts of homelessness. Together, as a team, we can win this battle for our kids and communities.