People rarely achieve anything interesting by themselves. Anything worthwhile is better done as a team. But rivalries and misalignments can destroy harmony, synergy and goodwill in a group of top performers.
I ran a sled dog team for 10 years. They are all gone now but the lessons remain and I apply them to my team coaching business today.
Lesson 1: put operators in roles they contribute best in.
Our super dominant alpha dog, a big burly malamute-lab cross we named Hector, carefully trained each new puppy arriving to the pack by beating the shit out of them frequently in the first weeks at home. This usually resulted in expensive trips to the vet. But they all learned quickly who the boss was.
The alpha is rarely the lead dog on a sled team; they are often too dominant to take commands from the musher. Hector was the biggest and I put him at the back. The "wheel dogs" usually took the most abuse as they were connected directly to the sled which would constantly jolt them around. He was a great worker who shouldered most of the load of dragging me around.
Our lead dog was our lone female named Kali. A big, beautiful malamute with classic wolf coloring, she was an ambitious, headstrong hunter, but she was invested in my approval and would generally follow my commands. She set a good pace until two-week-old rabbit tracks would divert her attention.
Logan was unusually canny. We adopted him when he was really sick. No one else wanted him and I think he was always grateful. We put him on point, behind Kali as the second leader. More than once he steered us away from weak river ice, preventing us all from drowning when Kali was singularly concerned with looking for something to kill. The number two is often the unsung leader on a team.
In any squad, there're also special team members who come in for specific tasks. We put Juno on the wheel with Hector. He hated being behind other sleds in a race and was our passing gear. He usually ran to get away from Hector and was our strongest puller when he was fully engaged. At home he slept a lot.
Lesson 2: fight at home but show up as a team when it counts.
When Kali was maturing and her testosterone started to peak she started challenging the older dogs for position. Juno let her pass without much of a fight. He only cared that he was in the pack. Next, she discovered that Logan was much less willing to give up his position. They had frequent bloody fights at home but remained professional when working on the line. Hector continued giving "tune-ups", sending the other dogs to the vet occasionally to remind them of their place. Unchallenged to the end, he kept the pack relatively stable.
Lesson 3: the sled goes where the lead dog takes it.
The driver of the sled or business, the so-called "owner" or "CEO", is not really in charge of what get's executed. The front-line leaders are. I am at the back. I can yell commands and brake, but Kali and Logan decided where we were going. We got caught out in a white-out once at night–pitch black with hard driving flakes of snow. I couldn't see shit, so I just stayed low on the sled, turned my headlamp off, shut up and the let the team bring us home.
Lesson 4: following commands is voluntary.
We can't make a team go where we want them to go just because we are in charge of feeding them. I learned quickly, as the "asshole on the back" that if I didn't jump off the sled and run up the hills with the dogs, they would just stop pulling. They were fully capable of pulling me up the hill, but they didn't suffer freeloaders. I also learned that getting frustrated and yelling and screaming when they didn't do what I wanted them to do only triggered mutiny on the team. When I calmly reiterated my direction and gave effusive praise for their cooperation, they magically cooperated.
Leaders and teams have a common mission (go out, have fun, come back alive) but speak a different language. Much of the communication is done at the energetic level. The musher and his team of dogs only achieve harmony and the sled only goes where the musher wants it to go if the team is connected at an emotional level.