“There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I like to think of each as a separate finger on the fist. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable.”—Mike Krzyzewski
Coach K has been tremendously successful on many levels: spanning decades, working with collegiate athletes, working with professional athletes during the Olympics…you name it, he’s done it. So when someone with that sort of resume tells us what the fundamental qualities of effective teams are, we should listen!
5 traits of great teams
Communication. We all know it’s great to encourage communication within our teams…I’m sure that is something you already know. That’s not where it stops though. Of course we need to have effective communication between coaches on staff and also between coach and player.
Trust. Our athletes need to trust that we have their best interest at heart, that we’ll be fair—not equal—but fair. We, as coaches, need to be able to trust that our athletes are working to the best of their ability. That’s part of the coach-player agreement, right? We’ll do our best to turn them into the best version of themselves (in terms of our sport) and they’ll do their best to believe in and follow our plan for them.
Collective responsibility. This is the old “there’s no I in team” idea. I believe one of the fundamental truths of team is that the individual has a responsibility to the team. That responsibility is to put team first. Putting team first can look like a lot of things: off-season workouts, excelling in the classroom, etc.
Caring. About one another, about the team, about the program.
Pride. In their personal effort, in their team, in the collective struggle to maintain excellence over a period of time.
The last sentence of the Coach K quote is interesting. Is it hyperbole or is he saying it with conviction? I’d lean toward the latter. Whenever I’ve had a poorly functioning team, they have fallen short in one of these areas.