It Takes TEAMWORK To Make The Dream Work – Part I

GStokan ChickfilA Bowl

We’re honored this month to have Atlanta leader, Gary Stokan as our guest blogger!  Founder of the Chick‑fil‑A Bowl, Stokan is also past president of the Atlanta Sports Council where he served for 12 years, concurrently with his role with the Chick‑fil‑A Bowl. With 35+ years of corporate sports management experience, Stokan has put his fingerprint on many major events that have brought exposure and economic impact to the city of Atlanta. Additionally, Stokan’s leadership efforts in recruiting the National Football Foundation resulted in the future relocation of the College Football Hall of Fame to Atlanta and the creation of Atlanta Hall Management, Inc.

In this month’s blog Stokan shares with us his philosophies on leading a team, on the field or in the office. A former basketball student athlete, basketball coach and graduate of North Carolina State University, Stokan knows his way around building team initiatives that move a company forward. We hope you enjoy the many take-aways of business advice in Part 1 of this leadership series!


We all need a set of personal and business philosophies that anchor the beliefs in our personal lives as well as our work lives. In business, these philosophies provide the platform for the “who, what, how and why” your company exists. Ideally, philosophies should be easy to explain, understand and live by. And developing them will assist you, your team and your partners in understanding where you’re going and what you stand for.

Part of my experience is as an old sports coach – so I tend to think that a team is comprised of people who have a particular expertise to successfully fit a particular role. This theory is not unlike a basketball team that has a role for center to play, block shots, rebound and score inside. Or a point guard to handle the ball, set up the offense, call the defensive signals and make free throws at the end of game. This to me is not unlike a company structure which needs expertise in the areas of finance, law, operations, marketing, sales and communications…just to name a few. Our company has adopted an INTERNAL way of thinking where we thrive based on a philosophy that we work together with each other. We also thrive on an EXTERNAL philosophy as to how we work together with our partners. In this blog I’m sharing the specifics of our INTERNAL philosophy and how it moves our team forward.

We have a strong internal belief in TEAM. When broken down letter by letter the T stands for TEAMWORK. We work together as a team with no job too big or small for anyone and we protect one another by assisting each other through loyalty, support and a consensus to get the job done…together. To develop a TEAM you must recruit each member with the expertise that’s specific to the role.

Working our way through the word TEAM, E stands for Empowerment. When we recruit team members that are experts to specific roles we must respect, trust and allow that person to play their role. A caveat as a leader is to make sure that when they are hired they understand their role, accept their role and then feel comfortable that you are going to let them play that role. Thus you have to EMPOWER people on your team to play their specific role. You don’t want your center of your basketball team bringing the ball up the court…nor do you want your point guard having to be your shot blocker, rebounder and inside scoring threat. Similarly you don’t want your finance person writing contracts and your attorney handling finances. Also in light of where we are with the mentalities that exist now in society, people expect, crave and desire empowerment. So EMPOWER your team and teammates to play their role.

By empowering your team you now have to make them accountable thus A stands for ACCOUNTABILITY. They must know that the TEAM can only succeed if they use their expertise to play the role prescribed and are held accountable to the rest of the team to successfully play that role. This again in our society is incredibly important to insure that each of your team members understands…accountability is sacred to a team’s success.

Last, but not least, M signifies MANAGEMENT. The management of your TEAM comes together through TEAMWORK, EMPOWERMENT, ACCOUNTABILITY and MANAGEMENT. If you analyze any successful organization or TEAM I will guarantee that you their philosophy is evident.