Rather than diminish UCONN’s current 89 game win-streak by making irrelevant comparisons to the UCLA men’s record, we should marvel at the accomplishment through the eyes of Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, and Dave Logan.
The leadership and teamwork lessons abound. To use Collins’ metaphor, they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the right seats. Contrary to what some people argue, Connecticut doesn’t have ALL the best players. Other teams are just as loaded with high school all-Americans. The difference is that Connecticut has the right players in the proper roles for its particular organization and brand of basketball.
When you hear from the players, their words speak squarely to Lencioni’s teamwork model. They trust each other implicitly; they’re not conflict averse (they admittedly fight like sisters); their commitment is evident during their intense practices; they are accountable not just to their coach but to one another, and their goal is to win basketball games – period – without regard for individual stats or personal stardom. A true team beats a collection of all-stars any day of the week, and they’ve proven it – literally.
Finally, Dave Logan states clearly that only 2% of teams (tribes) function at Stage 5, and they don’t typically do so for very long. If you recall, Stage 4 is “We’re great, you’re not” which is a plausible stage for a team that’s won 89 straight games. Instead, they operate at Stage 5 – “Life is great.” They’re not worried about only being better than their nearest competitor; rather, they set their own standard of excellence. Their impressive average margin of victory during the streak is typically written off to a lack of strong competitors. A closer look would reveal that because Connecticut sets its own high standards, the team is just that much better than everyone else. Hardly something to criticize.
The Connecticut win streak should not be compared to UCLA any more than we should compare the Yankees or the Celtics when they dominated their respective sports. All of these teams did what was asked of them (or more accurately what they asked of themselves) night after night, year after year. They achieved a level of dominance that has endured for generations. As for UCONN, watching them play is a sight to see whether you’re a basketball fan or not. As we approach the dawn of a new year, invite your employees to tune-in to one of their games and ask them to think about what winning lessons they can bring to your organization in 2011. Happy New Year!