3 Lessons about teamwork from the Kansas City Royals

The Royals baseball team has invigorated Kansas City! After last night’s victory that takes the team to the pennant race, players were celebrating downtown with their fans. Tweet of gratitude were sent by players, along with the invitation to celebrate at an Irish pub downtown. The players thanked the city and were happy to win for the city.

I went to one home game this season, and it was on September 17, 2014, near the end of the season. The Royals beat the White Sox during that game, but the crowd stood out to me. I can’t judge good technique of a ballplayer, but I can tell when the crowd is electrified. It was different than any game I had been to in KC for the past ten years. I lived in Chicago and went to Cubs games prior to moving back here ten years ago. The KC fans were like the Cubs fans: in love with their team.
What makes this team so special? Why did fans across the city fall in love with this team? Why is this team selling Royals gear to fans across the whole country?

So far, I think it comes down to three things:
  1. There is no one superstar. There is no one trying to make a name for himself or to out-shine the rest of the team. Their egos are in check, and it shows.
  2. The team likes each other. There is a high degree of trust that each person will do his job really well. When they need help, they call on each other and are heard. The camaraderie shows between innings, in the dugout, and during warm-ups. It’s palpable when they celebrate home runs and victories.
  3. They are not insane. Isn’t the definition of insanity when you keep doing the same thing but expect different results? This team changed its strategies. They worked hard on being fast, stealing bases, and putting themselves in the position to score. The hitters aren’t swinging for the fence every time. They work to get on base. The team has focused on small steps that yield points. Oh, but they’ll sure that the homeruns that come!

The Royals are doing what many other successful teams have done: they put the team first, trust each other, and create the opportunity to win. Workplace teams can do those things too. It is time to Be Royal!

Which is worse: a loss or tie?

Whether you are a soccer fan or not, by now you have heard that the US team is competing in the World Cup and came within thirty seconds of advancing to the next round yesterday. Yesterday, the US played Portugal. Portugal scored early, but the US scored late and led by one with less than a minute to go. Portugal scored with about thirty seconds remaining, so the match ended in a tie. Either team can advance to the next round, depending on different circumstances.
Every news show is covering the World Cup this year, and if social media is any indication, people are watching. People are really into it. They believe! #IBelieve, the hashtag chosen by the US team, has been trending on Twitter since last week, with 8 million tweets going out worldwide about yesterday’s game alone.
American fans were devastated by yesterday’s tie and expressed their sadness on Twitter and Facebook. Were you watching? Were your social media streams full of emo posts about the outcome? Americans like winners. Our games don’t end in ties. We have overtime and “sudden death” to ensure there is a victor.

It took a while for the dust to clear and for Americans to understand what the tie means to the US team. It means the US plays Germany this Thursday, and if they win, the US advances to the sweet sixteen.
As the news shows covered the World Cup this morning, one of the experts opined that the US should feel great about Sunday’s match, despite the draw. He said that soccer is different from other sports and Americans need to understand how a draw is viewed. In soccer, there is respect for the game and how it is played. The US, the expert said, should feel good about how it played yesterday. (I was getting ready for work and didn’t catch the names of the panelists.)

Others on the news panel disagreed, some even declaring that a loss would have been better than a draw. He especially did not like that the US team let Portugal score, thus damaging their chances to advance, with just thirty seconds left.
Hearing the comments about the draw made me wonder what you think about win, lose, or draw in other areas of life.

Beyond the soccer match, is it better to tie than to lose? Or, are there times when losing would be better? Does a tie lead to “resting on laurels”? Is there ever a time when winning is not the best outcome? What do you think?