Steve Cockrum, co-author of 5 Gears with Jeremie Kubicek, suggested that we listen to Marcus Buckingham’s video on “Competitive Advantage.” I did listen. I think the tools that measure the performance of a company, the amount of engagement of employees and other devices are helpful HR tools. Buckingham’s scatter plot and his discussion emphasized a key point that when all the variables appear to be the same, there are those people who outperform the averages whether it is income generation for the company, the engagement of employees or corporate-wide job satisfaction.

Buckingham concludes that the “team is the unit of measure” upon which we should focus, not the entire corporation or the organization. His insight is one that does not surprise those of us who have been working with teams in a variety of organizations.

At their annual conference, Chad Mee and the Tennessee Foundation for Labor/Management organization focused on teams and the keys or variables that lead to success. As true partners, labor and management are working together to improve the functioning of their teams. They focused on the dynamics within the team, dealing with the influences outside the team, and determined that the success of the team is derived first from “trust” of the leader, followed by team trust among the team members. Rightly, Chad Mee and the conference participants focused on the team and strengthening the dynamics of working together and the keys to successful leaders who know the pitfalls when trust is missing and the possibilities when trust is built. They reinforced tackling important projects, honoring each other’s contributions, and the great accomplishments that happen when labor and management are on the same team.

I was pleased to be a part of their conference. I have experienced great teams accomplishing the almost impossible with few resources and teams that failed even when they had great resources. As leaders, our obligation is to provide support for teams to get better because we know how to help them and to inspire the team leader to stay the course with the organization because we trust her or him.