In my last post, I mentioned I attended a leadership webinar by 4-Star General Stan McChrystal where he said the most important leadership quality of all is empathy.  Today I thought I would share his perspective on teamwork.  It is similar to Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s analogy of a “first,” where the 5 qualities of communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring, and pride are 5 separate fingers (also the 5 players on a basketball team).  “Any one individually is important,” says Coach K, ” but all of them together are unbeatable.”

So here’s General McChrystal’s take on it.

“Think about plywood.  What is it?  It’s a number of pieces of very thin wood – actually, pretty cheap wood, very weak wood – you can take your hands and break it.  You try to put a nail through one sheet of it, it’ll shatter because it’s just not thick enough.  But when you put it together with glue, it suddenly is resilient, it’s very useful.  Think about organizations.  Even the best ones, most elite, have all been just normal people, people with hopes and dreams and fears and strengths and weaknesses and all of the things that individually, they’re not much.  [But] when you pull them together, they’re like plywood; they’re strong.  And I think that’s where leadership comes in.”