The Czech Republic men’s hockey team won the gold medal at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. This accomplishment is undoubtedly one of the best examples of what strong leadership and proper teamwork can do. The Czechs were led by superstars Dominik Hasek and Jaromir Jagr and followed by a group of lesser-known players that had grown up playing hockey together.
The reason why this is so significant is that they beat several powerhouses loaded with amazingly talented individuals. Most notably, they beat out a Canadian team of all-stars like Wayne Gretzky and Patrick Roy.
I have been a part of many successful and not-so-successful teams. Overall I believe 3 key pieces make up a successful team, and they are:
Teams and organizations are only as strong as their leaders. The leader must set an example. In the case of the 1998 Olympics, Jaromir Jagr was always the first one at the rink and the last to leave. He was working hard on the ice at both ends of the rink. He was leading the team by example!
The team needs to have each other’s backs. If someone on the team makes a mistake, it is important not to blame the individual but rather learn from it as a team. Learning from each other’s mistakes makes the team builds trust and makes the team stronger. This creates a winning culture.
Without a goal what is the point? What is the team trying to accomplish?
In 1998 the Czech Republican team had one goal in mind. And that was to win the gold medal. Dominik Hasek didn’t want to have the lowest save percentage to get a bigger NHL contract. He wanted to win gold as a team.
Overall, in business, if you are trying to build a winning team, you need to have a goal. You need something you want to accomplish together. Build trust between individuals by winning and losing as a team. You are the leader, so create a strong culture and lead by example.