Individual Talent is Overrated in the Team Building Process

Individual Talent is Overrated in the Team Building Process

With 6:45 left in the fourth quarter of the Eastern Conference Finals, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum caught the ball at the top of arc. He took four steps, as the Celtics were down 71-67 to the Cavaliers, and rose up and dunked over LeBron James.

The TD Garden went nuts — as well as my living room 1,614 miles away. Moments after this iconic moment, Tatum bumped LeBron with his chest … and it was on. Every Celtics fans could sense that this Game 7 would end with a celebration in Boston.

But, in typical LeBron fashion he ended the game scoring 35 points and the Cavs beat the Celtics 87-79. The next day however provided a silver lining for Celtics fans.

The Celtics were a few minutes away from playing in the NBA Finals. They accomplished this without their two best players — Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward — who had season ending injuries. Many believed the Celtics could win an NBA Championship the next year.

The same Celtics team came back for the 2018-2019 season paired with the addition of a healthy Irving and Hayward. Expectations were high! So high that in my years of being a Celtics fan this hype was second only to the 2007-2008 season that ended in Banner 17.

Yet, things shifted ever so quickly. Twenty games into the 2018-2019 season the Celtics were 10-10. They played like they hated each other. They had no chemistry. They had no heart. The most disappointing Celtics season in my lifetime ended with an early playoff exit.

On paper, this team was as talented as any team in the league. They were the most talented Celtics team since 2007-2008, but their talent alone could not carry them. They had a team of 15 individuals who were great basketball players, but as a team they struggled to function correctly with one another.

Ultimately, a team comprised of talented individuals failed as a team.

In organizations we lead or are a part of, the same can be true. There’s a desire to collect the most talented or most experienced individuals.

Within the Local Church, this may look like we’re trying to find the best singer to be the Worship Pastor. We look for the best communicator to be the Pastor. We look for the most personable or charismatic person to lead students or kids.

While talent and experience are desired traits in building personnel for a team — they should not be our main identifiers (especially within the Church). In building a team there are three qualities each individual must have within their DNA.

The Parable of the Talker

The Parable of the Talker

I’m certain many of you reading have been put in crowd-pleasing situations where it is appropriate to poke fun at yourself. 

One of my favorite past one-liners was telling others that I pursued a degree in Mass Communication solely because communication (or mainly talking) was the only talent I possessed.

In hindsight, it is possible that most people laughed not from hysteria but rather because of the deep irony and truth presented in the joke itself.

Unlike many who face routine nervousness when having to lead a meeting or conduct a presentation, my continual strength has been the ability to talk. For those who know me personally, “ability to talk” is an understatement. I’m self-aware of the fact that I could have a conversation with an inanimate object if the time and moxie was present. 

I’ve always enjoyed sharing stories and swapping thoughts with others (hence, this blog). Rare are the times when my conversation is at a loss of words.

Because of this potential, I found myself at an early age not having to put much effort into public speaking. Demonstrations or lessons that took classmates weeks to prepare for were usually adlibbed by myself. I considered this continual predicament to be “#blessed” and never gave it another thought. 

Unfortunately, what I considered luck or talent at the time eventually morphed into a full blown bad habit. I knew I was good – and I knew I could get away with it.

While I pursued my Mass Communication degree with the intentions of working in journalism, my future took a different direction as my husband and I now work in ministry. While journalists and pastors seem eons apart in nature, they share one common denominator – deadlines. 

Just as the time clock for a story to be posted eventually comes to an end, the perpetual Sunday and Wednesday always comes around. Whether you work for days or pull an all-nighter, your time is boiled down to the deadline. It was the toxic food that fed the beast, transforming a bad habit into a lifestyle.

Still, no one knew.