B Magazine: Book Review: “Great Teams” Offers New Perspectives on Leadership (01/07/22)

“Great Teams; 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently” is a case study of organizational leadership in the world of sport and business. Written in 2016, the book uses examples of great teams throughout sports history to demonstrate how great teams become great. and how the same strategies have been applied by some of the most successful organizations in the corporate world.

Sports fans will immediately connect with the stories shared in each chapter about great teams including the Dream Team, St. Louis Cardinals, UCLA basketball, Los Angeles Lakers, Alabama football and more. others. Those looking for leadership lessons in the corporate world will appreciate the examples of Apple, Target, Nestle Global, General Electric, Chick-fil-a and others.

Sport and leadership have always been intimately linked in our culture. Many of the heroes we think of from childhood were sports icons; and many of the leadership lessons we learned as children were learned on the competition fields. Some of these lessons were immediately evident; and some only become apparent to us when we reflect on our experiences in our search for answers to the leadership questions we face today. Great Teams does a terrific job of connecting the dots between the leadership lessons offered by great teams in sports and great teams in business.

The book is divided into four pillars that encompass the 16 things that successful teams do differently. Culture, purpose, conflict, change, strategy, leadership, and team dynamics can each pose unique challenges to organizational success. Often the difference between good and great teams is the ability to excel in these areas. “Great Teams” explores each of these areas, and more, to uncover the principles embraced by the dynasties of sport and business as they excel. Using the four pillars, “Great Teams” guides readers through a progression that includes goal targeting, effective management, enabling effectiveness, and mutual direction.

A challenge authors often face when writing leadership books is translating lofty leadership principles into actionable material for the reader. Yeager details leadership principles espoused by great teams, but also does a solid job of highlighting specific actions taken by organizations that succeed when living by these principles. The real value of any leadership book is the reader’s ability to act on the principles explained in the book. Putting principle into practice is how people and organizations grow. Yeager provides many examples for readers to consider.

As a student of leadership, I have found the 16 things to be consistent with many leadership lessons I have studied from other authors. When I read an informative book on leadership, I find that leadership lessons generally fall into three categories: those I know and know how to do well; those I know and know I’m not doing well; and those that are paradigm shifts for me and create “aha” moments in my thinking. In “Great Teams”, I found a little of each. Using examples from major sports teams, the author created a connection with the sports fan in me. I found the book interesting and enjoyable to read. Sports fans will especially appreciate this book, but anyone looking to improve their team’s performance, on or off the field, will benefit.

Jeff Glenn is the CEO of GlennView in Cape Girardeau.

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