Team building quotes from great minds and great leaders can be the inspiration that your group needs to pull together. These wise and pithy sayings will open your eyes and strengthen your resolve as you work with others. Whatever your endeavor might be – sports, work, or community service – learning to work as a team is crucial. Team building is an important skill you can learn. Knowing how to work together and make a team function is important for the team leader and every team member alike.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi – who led the Green Bay Packers to victory in the first two Super Bowl games – knew about how to make a team pull together and accomplish great things. (The Super Bowl trophy is even named for him.)
As Vince Lombardi said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” He understood that any collective effort must first start with the individual’s willingness to take part. You might be leading a meeting – not leading a team to a Super Bowl victory – but those words hold true. Individual commitment is key for the success of a group.
Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing at a young age, and only learned to communicate some years later thanks to the hard work of her teacher Anne Sullivan. Keller devoted her life to humanitarian causes, such as rights for the disabled and women’s suffrage. In her life of achievement and advocacy, she spoke about the importance of working together when she said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Keller depended on others even to communicate with the world, and thus she well understood the importance of group effort.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead helped open American eyes to the varying cultural practices and mores of societies around the world. She became a popular academic figure in the United States. She spoke wisely about what people can accomplish together. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” Mead said.
These quotes illustrate the need for everyone in the group to work together. As the leader of the team, however, your role is different. You need to inspire the group to work together. The most important element is inspiration.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote “The Little Prince” and was a pioneering aviator in the early 20th century. He wrote about inspiring a group when he said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” If people yearn for the goal – if they see clearly what it is that they want to achieve – then they will find the motivation to come together and work.
Another way to find inspiration for your team is to look to those who have achieved greatness in team sports. Basketball legend Michael Jordan – as talented a player as ever played the game – said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Jordan should know – as part of the Chicago Bulls he won three championships in a row during the 1990s – twice.
Babe Ruth, whose name is synonymous with baseball prowess, knew about teamwork, too. The quintessential Yankee slugger said this about teamwork: “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” It is worth remembering that no one individual high achiever – even if it’s Michael Jordan or Babe Ruth – can achieve success alone. It takes the team to make it happen.
Basketball coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers understood the essential nature of each member of the team. He coached the Bulls and the Lakers to a total of 11 championship victories – a record for any coach. He said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” The relationship between the two is essential.
Bishop Desmond Tutu
Even the Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu can use sports metaphors to bring the team together. He made it clear that everyone must have a distinct but vital role in a team and diversity is to be valued. As the great South African religious leader said, “How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?”
Steve Jobs never achieved major athletic victories, but as the leader of Apple, he created technological wonders and transformed our world. He spoke to the TV show “60 Minutes” about teamwork. He said then, “My model for business is the Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
Another business giant who understood the need to work as a team was the great Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate of the 19th century. He spoke on the importance of working together when he said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
Henry Ford not only created one of the most enduring automobile brands in the world, he also revolutionized the manufacturing process with the assembly line. Each Ford car was put together by many people – not just one craftsman, as in years past – who were each responsible for one element of the assembly process. Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Lastly, the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield inspired the world with his YouTube videos from space. He even performed David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” while aboard the International Space Station, garnering millions of views for his video. He has spoken eloquently about life and achievement. Hadfield reminds us of this inspirational idea: “No one ever accomplished anything great sitting down.”
Whether you are an athletic coach, the group leader at work, or a business owner, you should learn skills to lead your team effectively.