Tony DeMeo

The Three Musketeer Rule

Coaches, the following is a short excerpt from my book: Common Sense Rules for Everyday Leaders that has been published & is available on my website or on Amazon. It features close to 100 of these types of rules that every leader can find helpful. This rule is about the value of teamwork which is a good thing to remember at the start of each season.

The Three Musketeer Rule

“Candy is dandy but teamwork is sweeter.”
When you hear the words “The Three Musketeers” you either think of a great tasting candy bar (a personal favorite) or the classic novel about the days of duels, sword play, loyalty and teamwork (another personal favorite). The Three Musketeer Rule is about the novel not the candy bars. But the message from the novel is far sweeter than the candy bar.

The Three Musketeers was a classic novel written by Alexander Dumas. It tells the tale of swashbuckling heroes battling the forces of evil. The plot centers around a hot-headed young man named d’Artagnon who wants to join The Musketeers. The Musketeers have a good laugh over d’Artagnon’s hot-headedness; but admire his spunk and welcome him into their group. The motto of the Musketeers was: one for all and all for one.

Today’s society is plagued with the disease of me. What’s in it for me? How does this benefit me? Look at me. It also has “I” trouble. I want… I am entitled to… I did… Television and the media trumpet and actually encourage narcissistic and selfish behavior. The sports network, ESPN, does not applaud team play but rather glorifies the individual moment. ESPN will replay a showboat play over and over and ignore the team guy. Players actually plan ESPN moments; the celebration after the touchdown is more important than actually scoring the touchdown. When a player is flagged for excessive celebration the ESPN crowd blames the rule. Team sports are a tool to teach the value of team play. Maybe coaches should add the Three Musketeers Rule to their playbook.

Leaders realize that team play wins. Successful businesses have also come to the same conclusion. The best players don’t win; the best team wins. In the 1980 Winter Olympics, the Soviets clearly had the best individual hockey players, but the USA had the best Hockey team. They had the power of synergy on their side.

Webster defines synergy as: a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements. I like to say synergy is one plus one equals three. The total is greater than the sum of the individual parts. The US hockey team magnified each other’s ability by playing together. Coach Herb Brooks created an environment of teamwork and team play; all for one and one for all. Brooks didn’t develop individual hockey stars; he developed a synergistic team that won the 1980 Olympics against better individual players. Red Auerbach may not have had the best players in the NBA when his Celtics won all those Championships but he had the best team in the NBA.

To make best use of The Three Musketeer Rule; a few tips you will not find on television:

Develop trust and loyalty in your organization. Reward unselfishness and team play. Loyalty to your team creates the attitude necessary for synergy to develop.

Think Team. How can I help my team? The team comes first. How can I contribute to my team? How can I make my teammates better? Never under-estimate the power of synergy.
Check your ego at the door. Ego leads to drama which leads to distraction which leads to poor performance. Members of your organization that put their individual issues ahead of the team must be let go. Negativity will destroy synergy.

Remember that a good team will beat good individuals. The 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team is a great example of this. So are Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics. Recruit team players to your organization and dismiss selfish ones. Talent is never more important than team. Tom Brady was Drew Bledsoe’s back-up until his opportunity arose. Brady accepted his role as a back-up until Bledsoe was injured but when he got his chance, he led the Patriots to the Super Bowl Championship.

Commit to loyalty. All for one and one for all. The Musketeers knew they could count on each other in crunch time not just when it was convenient. A strong leader is loyal to his people and cares about them even when they are struggling. Anyone can be loyal when things are going smoothly, but real leaders stick with their troops during tough times as well.

When things are going well; look to promote from within. Promoting from within creates loyalty because it tells everyone that if you do a great job you’ll move up. Promoting within also creates continuity which is important in any organization. Great teams keep the tradition going. The three top college football teams; Oregon, TCU and Boise State all promoted their top assistant when their head coach moved on. Only go outside the organization when you have a losing situation and a change is needed.

The Lesson of the Three Musketeer Rule is clearly stated in their motto: All for one and one for all. Once you understand this reward yourself with that candy bar.