We watch two teams, one strong and another. We see the German footballers who have formulated goals and a strategy and stick to all of that for four long weeks. They respect the coach and accept that not everyone in the team is the same: there are Merle Frohms and Lena Sophie Oberdorf and Alexandra Popp, and there are the teammates.
You will all have experienced that competitive sport is a selfish affair: everyone in the team wants to achieve something for themselves. But only when everyone understands that the joint project is greater or that the joint project makes selfish projects possible can a team create something lasting.
“When we stand together, nothing is impossible. If we disagree, everything will fail,” Churchill said. But how does it work: stand together? Alastair Campbell writes in Winners that a team must be made up of “leaders, warriors, and talents,” and when everyone knows which way leads to which goal, the leaders and the group inspire each other.
The art of leadership consists in forming a perfect orchestra from the best soloists. Barack Obama included Hillary Clinton on his team and he had learned this from Abraham Lincoln. “I destroy my enemies by making them my friends” is one of many beautiful Lincoln quotes.
Sometimes it doesn’t work without separations, “FIFO” is what it means in Great Britain: “Fit in or fuck off.” It is said of the American manager Jack Welch, who ran General Electric, that he lays off the weakest ten percent of the workforce every year have.
The story of American President Harry Truman, who dropped General Douglas MacArthur, a hero of World War II, in 1951, is also legendary. Truman wanted de-escalation in Korea, MacArthur wanted escalation and also invade China, certainly with the use of atomic bombs. “I didn’t fire him for being a stupid son of a bitch, although he was, which isn’t illegal for generals,” Truman said; no, he must fire anyone who so disregards the authority of the President. Truman had additional advice for those born later: “If you feel you must do something, do it immediately, because the sooner you do it, the better for everyone.”
There are four phases to any high-performing team, as American educational psychologist Bruce Tuckman explains: “FSNP,” which stands for “forming, storming, norming, performing.” The group is first formed, then they try it out before everyone is taken to their place and understand what needs to be done there; this happens firstly by differentiating tasks and secondly by integrating them all into the structure. And finally the group is ready, it counts, and lo and behold, it works.
Interesting, isn’t it, that in politics of all places little thought is given to team play. It’s too loud, too sly, too illogical; and of course the individual goal usually beats the common goal.
The federal government is the other team that we watch, or they wanted to be a team too, started out as one, happily trusting each other. Do you remember? Everyone in the team seemed to know their own role, back then, before it started, a damn long time ago.