The sequoia redwood trees located in California are some of the biggest trees in the world. There is a tree named the General Sherman that is 275 feet tall and 25 feet in diameter! These trees can endure strong winds, earthquakes, fires, storms and prolonged flooding. You would think their roots must go super deep in order for trees that tall to stay standing in such conditions. Not so.
Interestingly, their roots are relatively shallow. They often only go down about five or six feet but can extend as far as one hundred feet from the trunk. What’s fascinating is the redwood tree’s root system is intertwined with the other redwood trees, so they literally are holding each other up. The trees grow very close together and are also dependent on each other for nutrients. Only redwoods have the strength and ability to support other redwoods.
In addition to the joint strength of their roots these trees also release upwards of 500 gallons of water into the air each day to help create a moist fog that provides the other trees and plants in the forest the water they need to live.
So, beneath the surface of these amazing trees is a picture of interconnectedness that creates incredible strength that would not be present if they were standing alone, and they work together in order to survive.
This is an awesome picture of how a team can and should function…how we work together, link arms, get to know each other, lend a hand, support each other through victory and defeat, celebrate when others succeed and encourage when others fail. All of this is part of developing a strong foundation, a root system that can withstand the storms, the trials and help the team rise to greater heights than you ever could on your own.
Every member of a team brings different gifts and abilities, and yet it is all vitally important for the greater good. It also provides greater strength. A soccer team full of only goalies wouldn’t accomplish much. A football team full of only quarterbacks wouldn’t get very far. No part is more important than another. Each position, each role is needed. We are stronger together than we are on our own.
We also see this in Scripture:
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ… 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. -1 Corinthians 12: 12, 22 - 24
As a leader, it’s important to not only share the greater vision of the team but also the vision for how their individual role plays a vital part to the success of your mission. This creates a deeper sense of buy-in from everyone!
How are you building and cultivating connection within your team? It starts with the leader to go beneath the surface connection. People need to know you care before they care what you know. Care about them as a person first.
This will go a long way for when the storms come in competition, in team dynamics, or in the personal lives of your teammates. Your foundation will be strong, they will know you have their back, and they can endure far more than they could on their own because you’ve helped build a connection that goes beneath the surface.
Redwoods can never survive on their own…ever. We can’t either. That is the beauty of building a strong team. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Together we are stronger.
1. Build Connection Individually. Connect with your teammates one-on-one. Ask open-ended questions (questions where they can’t just give a yes/no answer). Find out… what makes them tick, what they enjoy, who and what they love, what challenges them, what excites them, etc.
2. Build Connection as a Team. Connection happens during training and in competition, but it’s also important to connect outside of that environment. Go out to dinner together. Have fun competition over miniature golf, bowling, Escape Room, go on a road trip or something else. Informal conversation and laughter go a long way to build bonds.
3. Share Your Strengths. Have someone facilitate a discussion where your strengths/gifts are shared and how they play a vital role in the bigger picture. It’s not only important for each person to know what they bring to the table but equally important that each person on the team knows how each piece fits.