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The First Two Rules of Leadership by David Cottrell

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Don't Be StupidSynchronize

“We know that communication is a problem, but we are not going to discuss it with our employees.”

—Overheard at a leadership conference

Synchronized swimming has been an Olympic sport since 1984. It's beautiful to watch but very demanding for swimmers, requiring fitness, stamina, and flexibility. It is amazing to see how a team is able to perform perfectly in sync while they are both upside down and underwater—especially when you consider that the only equipment allowed in synchronized swimming is a nose plug.

Olympic-caliber synchronized swim teams must work in perfect unison. It would be stupid to allow everyone to do their own thing. Every person must know their individual role, when to perform each move, and how each of them affects the team's performance. When every swimmer is in sync, the performance is breathtaking. But if even one team member is out of sync at any point, the entire performance falls apart—the whole team looks uncoordinated and out of rhythm.

The same is true with your team. Synchronization around what is really important is absolutely critical for your success. The military refers to this synchronization as “unity of effort”—harmonizing the efforts of different people toward a common goal. When every individual on your team clearly understands what is really important and each person is unified in working toward those goals, your performance can be spectacular and profitable. But without unification people do their own thing ...

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