Tim Snell: Why individuals win games but teams win championships

If you can indulge me for a few moments to have a Moneyball moment.

Let’s dive into some statistics for the NBA (National Basketball Association). Since the (second) retirement of arguably the greatest player of all time (Michael Jordan), how many times has the league’s top scorer helped lead their team to win the championship?

The answer, in the last 24 years, is one time – when Shaquille O’Neill won the scoring title and the Lakers won the championship in the 1999-2000 season. That’s 0.4 per cent.

Even if you look at the same question compared with who was awarded the league’s most valuable player, only five times in the last 24 years has the best individual player helped lead their team to win the championship.

How can it be that the best player, who scores the most points, can’t help their team win?

Because no individual is greater than a high-functioning team.

Unless you are the rebirth of Michael Jordan in your industry, the odds are stacked against you.

The challenge, therefore, is not in how to become the best individual, but how to build and lead the best team. 

This certainly challenges the concept of what it means to ‘lead from the front’.

How valuable is it to be the top scorer if your team doesn’t win? When the history books are written, do people remember the best individuals or the best teams?

For the NBA enthusiasts still with me, you’ll be well aware of the long list of great players who are criticised for never being able to lead their team to win. How great were they really, then?

To be a great individual is enviable. To make others great accomplishes prosperity.

The lesson here is two-fold:

  1. To win, you must grow a team.
  2. To grow a team, you must be able to lead a team.

Grow a team

To understand how to grow a team we first need to understand the underlying fundamentals of our business. The real estate model can effectively be broken down into five core pillars:

  1. Data – Your ability to grow and nurture data 
  2. Pipeline – Your ability to identify and convert sellers
  3. Stock management – Your ability to process and sell stock
  4. Community & marketing – Your ability to leverage your brand to create opportunities
  5. Leadership – Your ability to manage and mentor a team

Our ability to build systems that create consistency in all of these pillars will dictate the scale in which we can grow.

Real estate, like most businesses, is effectively just a tick box industry. Once you know what boxes need to be ticked, your success is simply a reflection of how many boxes your team can fulfil each day, week, month and year.

How much data is added to your database. How many connects are made each day. How many bidders can you bring to an auction. These are all controllable reflections of effort.

When an agent first starts, all five of these pillars are the role of the individual agent. To then be intentional about what team members your business needs then comes down to identifying which roles are either NOT being done, or NOT being done well / consistently.

Too often we choose not to invest in our business because we consider the cost in isolation. Contrary, too infrequently do we consider the cost of NOT completing a task. 

Not calling your database has consequences.

Like in basketball, Michael Jordan might take the last shot. But his team wouldn’t be in a position to win without the role players getting the rebounds, playing defence and running the plays around him.

Lead a team

The challenge laid down before us then, is how do we become better leaders?

Brian White, Ray White’s third generation custodian, views leadership as a journey. He believes that nobody is born a leader. Leadership isn’t simply, ‘you are a leader or you aren’t’. It’s something that we must work on every day. 

In my personal experience, I’ve always found it to be true that the greater a leader someone is, the more curious they are about how to improve their leadership.

A nod to the adage; “the more we learn, the more we realise we don’t know”.

So herein lies a challenge to an industry of highly ambitious individuals. What does success look like to you? To be the scoring champion? The MVP? 

Or the leader that elevates and empowers others? 

What will you be remembered for?

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Tim Snell

Tim Snell is the Head of Performance for the Ray White Group.