Go Team! Advice From Sports Teams To Bring Into Play in Your Team

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Product Marketing Manager
7 min read /

Before You Read On

This blog post was inspired by a session held during Atlassian Team '21.

The session was called 'Modern mindsets for work and life' hosted by Molly Hellerman, Global Head of Innovation Programs at Atlassian who was joined by Jill Ellis, All-Time Winningest Coach in U.S. Soccer History and former Head Coach and Katie Sowers, First Openly LGBTQ+ coach in the NFL.

Atlassian's mission for the first ever Team '21 event was to unleash the potential of teams. All teams function differently based on the industry they serve, the company they're based in, and the people that work within the team. No two are the same. 

When the session 'Modern mindsets for work and life' began during Team '21, you could wrongly assume that advice coming from a US soccer and an NFL coach – who clearly work in the sports industry – wouldn't apply to a software team like ours.

But soon after listening to the advice that was offered by Jill Ellis and Katie Sowers, it became obvious. It doesn't matter which industry you work in – teams are teams. And the principles of teamwork apply no matter what your team looks like or where you work. We're all stronger when we work together.

Here are the top five pieces of advice that we took from 'Modern mindsets for work and life' for you to bring into play in your own team:

Lesson #1 - Every Teammate's Contribution Matters

Coach's advice: Whether you're starting off in a match, or you're just coming off the bench mid-way through the game, everyone's individual contribution can push the team over the edge to success.

Apply it to your team: Every single person needs to understand how their role contributes directly to the entire team's success. Whether they feel like they have a big part to play or not, their role is there for a reason. The weaknesses that you may have are likely to be other teammates' strengths.

Lesson #2 – Failure Is Your Friend

Coach's advice: The highs and lows you experience as a team are both equally important. Failures are almost critical to your journey and they help you learn the lessons needed to succeed.

Apply it to your team: Don't be afraid to try new things for the fear of failing. When things don't work out as we expect them to, we always learn lessons and grow from that, until we 'score' and reach our next goal.


Foster an environment of open feedback within your team using Confluence so everyone can receive constructive feedback to improve in the future.

When you collaborate using a tool like Confluence there is no failure. It's just an ongoing cycle of creating, getting feedback, improving and so on.

Lesson #3 – Get To Know Your Teammates

Coach's advice: Having teammates around you is great and they should be viewed as allies – not competition. Communicate with them, share advice with each other and most importantly, learn from one another. You'll regret not fostering these relationships sooner if you haven't already.

Apply it to your team: Whether they do the same job as you or not, your teammates can help you see things from a different perspective. Sometimes you really need a sounding board, someone to bounce ideas off of or get advice from. Whether you learn a big life lesson, or just pick up a handy new tool to use at work, the sharing of information and ideas between you benefits everyone in the team. 

Lesson #4 - Company Culture is Everyone's Responsibility

Coach's advice: When a soccer player asked her coach how to describe the team's culture, the coach flipped the question around and asked the player what she felt like it was. The player then listed qualities she picked up from other players. The coach then told the player that it's not up to her as coach to define the team's culture, it's everyone's responsibility to create culture, evolve it, live it and contribute to it. 

Apply it to your team: If you don't already know what your team's culture is, try looking at your company values for starters. At K15t, we refer to our values often and reflect them in the work we do. If your team is aware of your values, speak about them often and start reflecting them. This way, you're likely to really feel a sense of culture that unites you all. Remember, it's not just one person's responsibility to carve out your team's culture, it's everyone's.


Want to find out more about the company culture at K15t and how it changed since we started working remotely? Read on →

Lesson #5 – Evolve as a Team in Order To Win

Coach's advice: To set up a winning team, you need to have players with different strengths on a team. The team needs to be capable of dealing with the demands of the game. If you're behind competition within a league, you need to close the gap. If you're ahead, you need to increase the gap to stay ahead.

Apply it to your team: If your team always does the same things you've always done and never changes anything, you might be able to survive, but perhaps not thrive. As with sport teams, it's important for all teams to evolve. You need to try new things – new processes, new software – and take risks sometimes to stay ahead of your competitors. 

Go Team!

So there we have it. Five pieces of advice from the field that can be applied to any team, no matter the size or shape.

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