Bill Russell played for the Boston Celtics for 13 years. Remarkably, his teams won 11 NBA championships out of those 13 years. He realized that the key to his success was the development of his team’s ego. He said that when the Celtics entered a building for practice or a game, they left their personal ego at the door. What they brought to the building, however, was the arrogance of their team. The Celtics knew they were a good team and their mindset towards an opponent was that if you beat us, you better bring a great game because we know we are!
Great coaches knew the secret of ego
Great coaches constantly talk about the importance of the team, not the individual. Vince Lombardi of Green Bay Packer fame used to say to his athletes, “A personal commitment to a group is what makes a team, a business, a church, or a country work.”
John Wooden, the iconic UCLA basketball coach, was a star player. He was not only an All-American at Purdue University; He was named College Player of the Year in his senior season. He also coached several stars at UCLA who excelled in the NBA, among them Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the leading scorer in NBA history. He had this insight into personal ego and stardom, “The main component of a star is the rest of the team.”
Basketball Hall of Famer Al McGuire was an outstanding coach at Marquette University. His primary defense to his players was, “Either we all go to town together, or nobody goes to town.”
talent doesn’t always matter
You need talent to win in athletics, but talent alone won’t win; It’s only talent that plays together that wins. Jerry West was definitely one of the best shooters to ever play in the NBA. He played 14 years and played in 1 championship team.
Michael Jordan, having seen him in practice and over 30 playoff games, is the best player I’ve ever seen. You could argue that Oscar Robertson was the second best player in NBA history. Like West, he played for 14 years but only played in 1 championship team.
Charles Barkley was an exceptional player. He was an 11-time All-NBA player and the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1993, but he never played on a championship team.
Ernie Banks excelled for 18 years for the Chicago Cubs. He is considered the best power hitting shortstop in the history of baseball, leading the National League in domestic leagues in 1958 and 1960, finishing his career with 512 homers. A Hall of Famer, he was a 14-time All-Star and 2-time National League Player of the Year, yet he never played on a championship team.
Team ego transcends athletics
Stephen Covey, a business consultant and author of the famous book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote that when he studied occupations, he found that they included three types of people: independent, dependent, and interdependent. Then he added that the most successful businesses developed interdependent ones. These companies believed that everyone’s work is important and no job is small. We all need each other!
Dr. Jack Orr took St. Francis University into an endowment from near bankruptcy during his presidency. He developed team ego knowing all his team members of the Board of Trustees, top administrators, staff cleaning all faculties and hostels; And he valued every single person.
The healthcare profession certainly depends on team play. There must be collaboration between nurses, doctors, physicians and pharmacists if a patient is to be properly cared for. If someone working in these professions is driven by ego, the patient becomes small.
jealousy kills teamwork
Jealousy kills a team! Whatever the stage, once jealousy enters the organization, teamwork is destroyed. I have noticed that athletic teams and projects outside the athletic field have little to no chance of success. I think it’s important to be aware of the envy that enters a team and nip it in the bud by confronting it promptly and directly.
Oliver Stone had this insight into jealousy when he wrote, “Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate it.” And BC Forbes’ final touch was, “Jealousy … is a mental cancer.”
Team ego wins.