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In my speeches, teamwork seminars, sales training classes – and in my book, Gold Medal Strategies: Business Lessons from America’s Miracle Team – I discuss, describe, and expound on the traits of great teams.

I have identified nine traits that great teams hold. I call these traits Gold Medal Strategies.

This month, I highlight the strategy, Great Teams Hold Themselves and Others Accountable, which is the focus of chapter 4 in the book.

Each member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team held himself – and held his teammates accountable. Our coach, Herb Brooks, held us accountable. And, you know – and he allowed for this – we held Coach Brooks accountable.

We held ourselves accountable.

We would not have made history had we not done so.

Here is an excerpt from chapter 4 of Gold Medal Strategies:

Do you recognize the name Gary Smith? Probably not. But if you are any sort of sports fan, you have seen the image of Gary Smith over and over.

Gary Smith was an important member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. “Smitty” wasn’t a player, he wasn’t a coach. He was the athletic trainer for the team. And like every member of the team, he did his job. If he didn’t do his job, we may not have won at Lake Placid. That’s the truth.

So when did you see Smitty? Think of Mike Eruzione scoring the go-ahead and eventual winning goal against the Soviet Union. Think of the next few moments of footage, of the bedlam and celebrating. You remember that guy on the U.S. bench, the guy pumping his fists, a white towel in his hand; he had the eyeglasses with the big lenses and dark rims; he had on the blue pullover with USA stitched on it. That is Smitty.

Gary Smith was the trainer of the University of Minnesota hockey team when Herb Brooks was its coach. The two men worked well together. When Herb was named coach of the 1980 U.S. team, the USOC let him know that it had assigned him a trainer. Herb said thanks but let the USOC know that the team already had a trainer. Like everyone else on team, Herb picked Smitty for a reason.

As I said, Smitty did his job. He actually did multiple jobs.

Smitty was accountable – and he held others accountable. His smart thinking, and accountability, may have saved the Soviet game.

During the game, we were a few seconds away from killing a penalty. With those few seconds remaining, Neil Broten jumped the gun, so to speak, and was on his way over the boards, and a referee was watching him. If Neil had made it on to the ice, we most certainly would have been called for too many men on the ice – and the Soviet power play would have been extended for two minutes. Not good: the most potent and highest scoring power play on earth, given more time. But Neil didn’t make it on to the ice, and that’s because Smitty saw what was happening and he pulled him back on to the bench. Herb was watching, and he walked down to Smitty and said, “Way to stay in the game, Smitty.”

Every member of the team is a component of success.

Every member of the team needs to be accountable – and to hold others accountable.

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