Setting team goals is not a new strategy. In fact, setting team goals have been around since the Ancient Greeks and Romans fought for the city of Troy. From the beginning of “team” coaches, leaders and generals have been setting team goals.
Team goals give a team a purpose. An individual is concerned with his personal goals and individual goals are important and even vital to team’s success but sometimes, personal goals can be a hindrance to the team goal.
First off, a team goal needs to be attainable and realistic. Realistic and attainable to the team. Obviously a little league team cannot set a team goal to win a high school league title because it is not realistic or attainable. A team goal gives each individual a common purpose.
I recently asked a high school team to individually write down their team goal on a piece of paper and the results were astounding. There were so many different goals that the individuals wrote down.
Examples included: beat our rival, have more wins than losses, go undefeated, win a league title, win a state championship, be ranked in the top 10, have fun, etc.
None of these goals were wrong, all were positive and none of these goals were that unrealistic or unattainable but they were all over the map. Only three players had written the same team goal.
The negative aspect of this is that when this team takes the field to practice or to play or a game, the players are trying to come together but all aiming towards a different destination.
The power of a team can only be harnessed when all the members of the team strive for the same basic goal. A simple realistic, team goal is essential to get everyone on the same page. So every member can metaphorically pull on the rope to get over the wall.
The team goal needs to be clearly defined and in most cases written down. When a goal is written down, it becomes permanent. It becomes real and then players can hold each other accountable.
For example, if a team goal is to win a league title. Then every swing, practice, stolen base, bullpen can be done with the intention of that team reaching that ultimate team goal. When an individual is sulking or is upset over an individual failure, then another player can come by and say that sulking or complaining is not going to help the team reach its ultimate team goal.
Joe Maddon, the manager of the Chicago Cubs has said that every year that he has been a manager in the big leagues, he has set one team goal that overrides all other goals; reach the postseason.
The goal might not always be reached and that is okay. The importance of the team goal is that you don’t have twenty players reaching for different destinations and thus getting lost with no direction.
Whether you are a player or a coach – a clearly defined team goal is the first step towards reaching that goal.