No one wants to be the "glue guy." Yet every team needs one.
Do you have a glue guy or gal on your team? Do you know what they are? Or, more important, what they do?
As a senior in high school on the basketball team, I rode the pine. There was a spot with my name on it formed perfectly to my contours. I never left it. It was hard coming from football, where I never got off the field on offense or defense, and then pivoting to a less-than-supporting role. I was lucky to get garbage time.
At the awards banquet that year, I was not expecting to walk away with any hardware. I was not the team MVP, I was not a defensive or offensive leader in any statistic, yet the final award given was a large plaque with my name on it that said: "Most Inspirational Player." I think Coach Gettings made it up.
Since I was on the team, I figured I better help my brothers. So I became the most vocal cheerleader. I encouraged and chanted, I cheered and jeered. I was loud, I was positive toward our team and negative toward opponents, and I knew that I could get the team and the crowd going, so I did. While I was not part of the on-court success, our team had a winning season and made it to state, for the first time in more than 10 years. I wish I could have been helping by getting rebounds and setting screens, but my job was something else. I was the glue guy.
The glue of the team is the person who might not be the best performer, but he or she helps everyone stay focused and get better.
What does a glue guy in baseball or any sport have to do with team performance in business?
Everything. Business is rough. Starting a business is emotional, filled with wins and losses.
Find your team's glue.
Building a team in business (sales, product, executive, project, etc.) is very much like building a sports team. You need to have talent. You need to have confidence. You need to practice. And, maybe most important, you need to have a team who supports and believes in one another and the mission.
John F. Murray is one of the world's most famous sports psychologists. He has been called the "Roger Federer of sports psychology." Murray believes not just in teaching people the right skills and mental attitudes, but also that having the right mix of people is important to the confidence of your entire team. Murray said, "One of the keys to confidence is social support and modeling. If you have some outstanding role models who deal with pressure effectively, that glue is going to spill out of the bottle and help everyone."
In sports, as in business, everything gets measured. Yet the importance of someone who holds the entire team together is hard to measure but easy to recognize. Everyone needs such a person on the team.
Glue is what holds everything together. Glue prevents breakdowns when times get tough.
As a leader, when sales are not coming in, or projects are not being finished, often it is your job to be the glue. To hold the team accountable through positive modeling and encouragement. Imagine how much easier it is to do when you have support or when there is another source of glue for the team.
What if every person on the team was the glue?
How do you find that type of person?
You don't find them. They find you. They are passionate and want to be there. They might not be the best at any one thing, but they are resilient and love helping others. They want to win and will do anything for the team.
When you find people like that, do whatever you need to do to support them and help them grow. For as they go, so does your team.