The Advisor Institute: Coach's Corner
The game-changing concept of "teamness"

Practical messages intended to help you elevate the success of your practice.

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      By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

      After meeting at a conference, I had the opportunity to speak with Kevin Eastman, president of Kevin Eastman Basketball and co-founder of Coaching U Live. Kevin's background includes serving as assistant coach to Doc Rivers for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Boston Celtics, as well as being national director of Nike's skill development programs for elite high school and college players. Here, he shares his perspective on the concept of "teamness" and what it takes to foster effective teams.

      David: "You've mentioned in the past that you're not a big fan of the word 'teamwork,' instead preferring the concept of 'teamness.' Can you tell us more?"

      Kevin: "It takes more than teamwork to make a team. It's the caliber of the teammates that bring a team together. I can sense a teamness about a company just by watching them interact at the conferences, seminars or training sessions I've spoken at. You can feel it."

      David: "How do you foster a sense of teamness within a group?"

      Kevin: "To me, teamness has three parts. First, there's teamwork. The single biggest factor in the team being effective is the ability of the participants to sacrifice something for the good of the team to change a 'me' agenda into a 'we' agenda. Teammate is the second word. The common mantra, especially in the NBA, is that you have to be over yourself and into your team. It can't be about you all the time, even if you're the best player."

      "Finally, there's the concept of the team. The best analogy for a team is one that we got from a friend of Doc Rivers — the concept of 'ubuntu.' The word describes a South African philosophy that, roughly translated, means 'I am because we are.' It's about being resilient and sharing the joy with your teammate when he's doing well and feeling the pain when your teammate is feeling bad. It's about focusing on a common goal, cheering on your teammates and sacrificing for the greater 'we' agenda."

      "We utilized this philosophy in 2008 when the Celtics won the title. It really brought us together because it succinctly told us each and every day how we needed to think and feel to get all 15 guys together as one. There are many ways to describe a team. This one really resonated with a group of highly competitive guys that were very, very demanding of each other and of the coaching staff. That's what happens when you're coaching the best in any business. It brought us all together."

      Bottom line: When it comes to forming effective teams, a sense of teamness can bring groups of highly competitive people together to work toward a common goal. The ubuntu philosophy's focus on working together, supporting one another and sacrificing for the greater good can inspire team cohesiveness, and ultimately help teams achieve greater success.