Would you take a $100,000 pay cut so your co-worker could get a raise?
That’s the sacrifice that five actors from “The Big Bang Theory” made this year for their team. These actors decided to voluntarily reduce their pay so that their co-stars would be more highly compensated. We can imagine how powerful this felt to the team – the actors felt so strongly about the group that they were willing to sacrifice their money to benefit others. In our work with teams, we’ve identified a willingness to sacrifice as a hallmark of extremely high-performing teams, and an area often overlooked in team evaluations and development.
We are a nation of individualists with a long history of self-reliant mavericks. But our world has become interconnected in myriad ways, from social media platforms to shopping online. Not too long ago, individuals could deliver great results without considering the broader organization. Today, the impact of a decision runs through an entire company. If a retailer changes a product, that change will reverberate through marketing, physical stores, customers, supply chain, digital, and associates.
Working together is no longer just HR’s concern, but a prerequisite for success. As business has become ever more competitive, harnessing the full power of a team is required. But human nature often gets in the way. We often see leaders behaving as if their success was possible without their peers. Hoarding resources, neglecting to share information, and failing to support a peer’s initiative are all symptoms of a team that is failing to work and win together.
If we had to pick one thing that best predicts teamwork and a team that wins, the frequency of “taking one for the team” - or sacrifice - would be at the top of the list.
It is not sacrifice if you love what you're doing.
~ Mia Hamm
Sacrifice has a negative connotation, conjuring images of denying ourselves that croissant for the sake of our diet. However, when we are passionate and committed, sacrifice isn’t that hard, and we barely notice this effort in pursuit of our goals. A team that is willing to make sacrifices to advance the aspirations of the organization is a team that is aligned, focused, and committed. A willingness to sacrifice is the apex of team performance. It is certainly not natural to give up your resources for others, not matter how deserving they might be.
A few common and visible examples of team sacrifice:
Here are a few real-world examples of sacrifice in action:
Here are a few deeper, less obvious examples of sacrifice in action:
A team will always appreciate a great individual if he's willing to sacrifice for the group.
~ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
What can leaders do to inspire this level of performance?
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
~ Mr. Spock
Mary Walter and Brian Buford believe that teams that truly work together deliver truly exceptional results. Contact us to explore solutions for your team:
Brian Buford, PHD is a skilled and versatile leadership coach, talent consultant, team facilitator, and keynote speaker.
His client experience spans multiple industries including retail, financial services, technology, telecommunications, healthcare, manufacturing, education, municipal and federal government, law, military, non-profit, and professional services firms. Brian has worked with hundreds of leaders and teams across North America, Europe, and Asia.
Mary Walter, MBA is a renowned business change agent, talent developer, and leadership coach. With over 20 years experience in Senior Executive Roles, she has the secret to accelerating team effectiveness and transforming results. Mary serves clients with a focus on measurable change, and solutions that align with the business model and customer priorities.
Follow Mary on Twitter: @marykatewalter