This Sunday is the biggest football game of the year and, being based in the Philadelphia suburbs, we’re pretty excited about having a local “underdog” team in the mix. This season has not only been thrilling, but a reminder of the importance of teamwork – both on the field and in the office. Whether it’s reorganizing workloads during a peer’s absence or preparing for inclement weather, we believe in facing obstacles together.
Read on for more stories on how Vanguard’s team-based environment keeps us from dropping the ball.
“A great example of teamwork at Vanguard was when I went out on parental leave last year. As excited as I was to spend time learning to be a dad, I had some reservations about leaving my projects behind. Not only was I concerned about keeping our priorities moving, but I was worried about leaving all that work on my teammates’ shoulders.
It turns out, I had no reason to worry because I have a great team. Like all great teams, sometimes you need to back each other up. It also helps that work-life balance is an important part of our company culture. Across the board, my boss, by business partners, and my project sponsors encouraged me to take the time off. I will be forever appreciative of the time I got to spend with my son. And, as a teammate, I look forward to returning the favor!”
“As an army veteran, I have seen firsthand the essential value of forming and leading a cohesive team focused on mission. At Vanguard, I find the same type of organization with a laser focus on taking a stand for others. Our VetsConnect network exemplifies how creating a strong sense of community for both veterans and friends of veterans alike increases our chances of succeeding on our shared mission.”
“Due to an unexpected medical situation, I had to step away from work at the end of August last year and didn’t return to a full schedule until the end of December. During that time, guess what happened? Everything. The team knew our goals, they worked together, they trusted and inspired one another….and they didn’t miss a beat. When I came back to the office, all I heard was this – Your team has been amazing. And that’s the thing about a truly great team. It doesn’t rely on any one person. At any point, depending on the situation, different people step up, they work together, and as a result, good things happen.”
Now, our Chief Human Resources Officer, John James, breaks down the elements of a high-performing crew and how to build a cohesive team:
“In the mid-2000’s, I took a “sabbatical” from a lifelong financial services career to be the CEO of the Port Adelaide Football Club in Australia. If you aren’t familiar, the AFL is the NFL of Australia. I was lucky enough to be part of that organization when we won the grand final (AFL championship) in 2004. It was such a great experience in a different industry where I observed elite teamwork with a championship team … the kind of teamwork required to be the best of the best. When I reflect on that time and the organizational feeling of winning the “title,” I realize I learned some insights about teamwork:
A team needs to have diversity. That 2004 team had a wonderful mix of experience, specialist skills, size, speed, personality, and race. Everyone played their role and capitalized on their strengths to play for each other. The diversity of that team still strikes me. When you get all the components right, you become a “champion team” rather than a “team of champions.”
Teams need great coaches (leaders). The coaching group was united, both strategically and tactically, in the game plan. They supported all the players individually and empowered the game-breaking players to “show their stuff.” Great leaders use the energy of the big moment to fuel the opportunity, rather than focusing on what could go wrong, and maximize the group’s collective strengths.
Truly great teams rally in tough times. The team had ups and downs in 2001, 2002, and 2003 when, despite being the best performing team in the league, we failed to win the title. Using those previous setbacks as learning moments in 2004, any time a player made a mistake, the more experienced players helped turn the situation as a motivator to drive personal and, therefore, team growth. The best teams have an amazing ability to get the best out of every individual.
With every team that I have been part of, there has been so much to gain from my football reflections. Teamwork is at the center of every reflection. How can I be a great coach? Can I create a play to make others better? Do I elevate my performance (and energy) in tough moments? Do I pick up my colleagues when they need a lift? The only way to win, whatever your “big game” may be, is being on a great team. What role do you play to make your team the best of the best?”