Why the A-team never lost, or how to be a great team and do good work.

My name is Roger… and I have a hero complex.

But what else would you expect of me? I grew up in the eighties watching Airwolf, MacGyver and The A Team.

For me, TV was all about Airwolf and it’s main character Stringfellow Hawk, the brooding loner Vietnam vet who stole the super-copter from the CIA so they couldn’t use for morally-questionable missions, MacGyver, the a pacifist creative problem who went on secret missions to rescue people who had gotten themselves in trouble, and, best of all, the A Team, four ex-Green Berets who were accused of a crime they didn’t commit and promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground where they survived as soldiers of fortune. If you had a problem, if no one else could help, and if you could find them, maybe you can hire the A Team.

The A team were the best. Every Saturday afternoon they would go up against some drug-smuggling Central American dictator or nasty land-owner who was forcing the people of a nearby town to leave their homes, and every Saturday that team of four friends and comrades-at-arms would win. They never lost.

Now, the cynics among you might stay that they always won because the show was about them, but my hero worship won’t allow for cynicism. I choose to believe that the A Team always won because they had a few special qualities.

The A Team had values, they had a mission. They wanted to help people, to use their special skills in service of the ordinary people who couldn’t fight for themselves. Teams need a mission to get behind, a cause to fight for. They need to have shared ambitions and goals.

The A Team had diversity. Although from not the most politically-correct decade, they had a black guy, a man with mental health issues, and a serial philanderer with commitment issues. But they accepted each other. These different personality types didn’t always get on, but each having their strengths and weaknesses they knew they were better as a team. Every team needs diversity. Diversity of opinion and experience, of approach and of skills are essential for a great team.

They had a strong leader. Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith always had a plan. Hannibal knew his team members strengths and he knew how to get the best from them. The team could always rely on him to get them into trouble, and to guide them to work together to solve whatever problems they faced. He loved it when a plan came together.

Creativity and ingenuity
The A Team had creativity and ingenuity. They could be locked in a shed, surrounded by gun-toting bad guys, but they would always be able to build a tank out of a school bus and flamethrower out of a drain pipe. Being able to be creative, find new ways to solve problems and different ways to do things is important for a team to feel in control of itself.

The A Team had values, diversity, leadership, and creativity. They were a good team. That is why the A team never lost, or, if you apply it to real life, that is what you need in a great team and to do good work.

And yes, everything I know about life I learned from eighties TV.