By Michael Holland       

My favorite NFL football team, the Baltimore Ravens, will play in the Super Bowl this Sunday.  The team is catching their perfect wave at exactly the right point in time.  The head coach, the coaching staff, the influential leaders, and all the players are positioned to follow their playbooks and leverage their building momentum to victory.   The Ravens have built the best parallel team for this season.

The great Peter Drucker provided us with a perspective on varying types of teams – fixed position, parallel and innovative – and which environments enable the best team structures.  A football team, like an orchestra, must synthesize the performance of sub teams to come together to accomplish the goal at hand and, as such, are parallel teams.  The better the sub teams perform in conjunction with each other the better the final product.

Parallel teams are more flexible allowing players working simultaneously to cover for one another more easily.  The playbook, or musical score, provides the exact specifications required to be successful while each player is expected to perform at the highest level.  The leaders will direct the play calls and guide the team.  At specific moments in time, some players will be asked to perform a solo revealing their individual creativeness and exceptional ability.

John Harbaugh, head coach for the Ravens, didn’t just decide last week that the team should come together: He led them here.

  • He invested time building relationships since the summer as well as over the years.
  • He encouraged player growth and development.
  • He synchronized the egos of leaders and facilitated crucial conversations.
  • He made the hard decisions, for instance firing his 2nd in command, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, at a critical point late in the season.
  • He believed and guided a culture of belief.

Will all this be enough to win on Sunday?    Probably.  Because great teams catching perfect waves don’t just stand there waiting for the glory.  Great teams pull together to create the opportunity for glory to be revealed.

Go Ravens!!

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Take a moment to reflect on the bullet points in this leadership learning moment. Which ones come easily to your team? Which might you need to work on to transform from an okay team to a great parallel team?
  • What do you think about this statement: “A team, like an orchestra, must synthesize the performance of sub teams to come together to accomplish the goal at hand.” Does this ring true to you? What can you do within your own team to reflect this?