Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Toast: To a Great Team, On and Off the Court


After reading a recent Rightpoint blog post from my colleague, Pernilla Peterson, on how having hobbies unrelated to your job make you better at your job, I started to think more about how the things we do both inside and outside of work enrich our lives and make us better people. As a member of our Change Enablement team at Rightpoint, I work with our clients to help them map out and achieve successful transformations, ultimately making their organizations better places to work. Outside of work, I get to drive success in a different way -- as a volleyball coach. Both of these roles, to Pernilla’s point, enable me to evolve as a person and a teammate. One thing that I have certainly learned while wearing these multiple hats is that teamwork truly does make the dream work.

Google recently published the results of a two-year study conducted on the most successful traits of a team. I would highly recommend reading the full article posted here. One thing that struck me when reading is that I don’t necessarily give enough credit to the teams I have worked with, both in business and in my personal life of coaching volleyball.

We all know great teams are often hard to come by, especially, as Google noted, when you are focused on things like "psychological safety" -- the shared belief that team members feel accepted and respected. While not in the most typical fashion, I would like to propose a toast to the great teams I have worked with this year, and share some insights on why they were so successful.

To my club volleyball team!

A team comprised of freshman in high school, who in their own right, had their everyday challenges of school, friends, family and just coming of age. Our secret ingredient of success was that we could all depend on each other. Through development in practices and application in tournaments, each teammate could depend on another to have their backs. That dependency showed up in providing feedback and pushing through difficult times. For this reason, the team bonded like no other, and really enjoyed their 8-month journey to become better volleyball players.

For all the project teams I worked with this year!

The teams I have seen with the greatest levels of success have a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities. That notion goes beyond the project team, impacting areas like governance, technical support, and sustainability. Throughout the project, it is key to outline areas of responsibility so individuals and teams can understand where they play a role.


I had the honor of working with an amazing team in New Orleans, LA with USA Volleyball High Performance. A collection of coaches from all over the country with a variety of backgrounds, assembled to run a five-day camp with some of the country’s most elite athletes. Our key ingredient to success? We had a common purpose. We were coming together to represent USA Volleyball, and worked endlessly to pursue a quality camp experience for our athletes. Time and again, a common purpose can often elevate a team beyond recognition. We were no different, and couldn’t be prouder of our results.

Teams, both inside and outside of the office, can take on all different shapes and sizes. Through some focused attention, we all have the opportunity to elevate our team’s performance, starting with reflection, gratitude, and growth from your experiences. I also know that a team with a common purpose, clear roles and responsibilities, and dependability is going to achieve far more than assembling a group of individuals. I look forward to working with many more teams this year and celebrating our future successes, together.

What teams are you thankful for this year, and what behaviors of success do you feel are important?

Carlee Wolfe is a Senior Leadership Development & Change Enablement Manager at Rightpoint. Follow Carlee on Twitter and LinkedIn.