“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Henry Ford

Albert Pujols is BIG news right now. His declaration as a free agent led to a lucrative contract. He will be moving west to join the Los Angeles Angels ball club.

The St. Louis Cardinals who have been left behind. Will they recover now that their leading player is moving on? General Manager John Mozeliak will rebuild his team. A momentary setback, with the right approach, can rebuild to become a winning opportunity.

Now is the chance for the Cards to do things differently. Instead of having their strategy revolve around one strong player, now is the time to open up the playing field. As the team reforms, opportunities will appear. Talented players who were in the shadows of Pujols now have the chance to shine.

Mozeliak isn’t reactive looking to replace Pujols right away by signing another superstar to the team. His strategy is to work with his current players. The Cards already possess talented players with a lot of potential. Now it is their turn.

Recognizing the keys to building a strong, high performing team will prevent the Cards from sinking. With such a drastic change the team needs to reform. It doesn’t have a choice.

Understanding the 4-stage process of team building helps to quickly recover, without losing too much momentum.

1. Forming – It all has to begin somewhere. This is the first stage as each player evaluates his place on the team. With the right direction, the group will re-think how to fill the gap left by Pujols. It is tentative at first. Mozeliak’s job is to encourage them to work together, building new bonds.

2. Storming – Always an interesting phase as strong players begin to emerge. Conflict arises. Personalities clash. Authority is challenged. Problems will appear which need to be resolved before the team can move forward. The tipping point which will decide whether the team is ready to move forward or remain in disharmony depends on how effectively the problems are addressed. The best approach is facilitating conflict resolution, letting the team members figure out the ideal solution. Although it might not be the easiest approach, it is the most effective strategy for team building.

3. Norming – Working out the problems strengthens the team. Now they can begin to move forward, creating a new culture. A pecking order is defined. Processes are being refined. With the right encouragement, players are working together for the good of the whole.

4. Performing – As the team continues working together they are building a culture of collaboration. Each player has a defined role and brings a crucial element, their talent, to the team. Now is the time to step it up and innovate. Strengthen the team by playing smarter, not harder.

A team playing at this level is a beautiful thing to witness. Egos must be laid aside for the good of the team. Yes, each player is an important element for a well functioning team. But it is the players working together which builds strength, character and winning seasons.

Although the headlines are all about Albert Pujols, keep your eyes on the St. Louis Cardinals. Right now there is a gap. Understanding the stages the Cards will experience as they readjust, filling the gap, will be interesting. The Cards have a chance to redefine themselves, building stronger plays and witnessing talent emerge among its players. Now is the time to create a strong foundation building a solid team which perseveres, emerging as winners.

Challenge: If your team were to go through a reforming process because the star athlete left, what opportunities would this create for you? Would you train or perform differently? Often athletes hold themselves back from really pushing themselves because their coach is so focused on the strongest players that your performance might not be noticed as much as you would like. Yes, recognition for a job well done feels good. Don’t, however, hold yourself back because you are waiting for recognition from your coach. Take initiative and begin pushing yourself. The improvement might not get noticed by someone else, but you will know. Your personal drive is what really matters, offering you the motivation to go beyond what others are expecting from you.

Do you crave recognition? When you aren’t getting the attention you need you lose the desire to keep going? It can be challenging when your coach places all of his focus on the best athletes and the rest don’t get that much attention.

Author's Bio: 

The Expert Sports Performance System is an easy step-by-step process helping you to focus your energy on high performance, with confidence. Winners act with speed. If you are reading this and it feels true for you, then get in touch with Loren for a FREE Discovery Session at info@expertsportsperformance.com