“Top performers are not enough” according to Mike Wagner in a post that points squarely at teamwork. The comments at the bottom of the post point out the trouble with teamwork: it rarely exists despite our constant lip flapping.
Patti Digh writes “…Ours is one of the most individualistic cultures on earth – we have much to learn from more collectivist cultures about teamwork, ” but Mary Schmidt really nails it with “It’s been my experience that the more a company talks about something – teamwork, ethics, quality – the less they actually believe it/have it. “
While others say teamwork is a myth, Lucia Mancuso writes “The whole theory of ‘the team being as strong as the weakest link’ drives me insane.” She sounds like she’s been the victim of too many weakest links in a system that sees teamwork as a way to keep the hangers on hanging on, which is another form of denial.
Both situations are sad. Companies that talk of teamwork but don’t actually support it, are lying to themselves and their employees. And if they aren’t truthful about something simple like that, you have to wonder what else they’ll lie about. And in Lucia’s case, her employers aren’t getting the most out of the team because she’s been burned before. Fortunately for her, she’s self-employed and gets to make the rules.
The truth about teamwork lies somewhere in the middle of that spectrum: While there’s no I in team, I am the one who has to take the first step. No organization can create teamwork: individuals create teamwork.
I used to be like Lucia; I didn’t like teams. I liked doing it myself. Then, about six years ago I completed a rather in-depth strengths a styles assessment and realized the root of my teamwork issues. I was the type of person who wanted to get moving, do something, don’t stand around waiting for things like facts and policies and procedures. I thrived in an environment that promoted “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission.” The problem was that I needed someone alongside me to slow things down, sweat the details and build the systems. I needed a detail oriented person to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. I needed someone to be the social butterfly that keeps the team together in tough times and celebrates in good times.
I needed a team. And they needed me. Once I learned a little humility – something the sports superstars Mike writes about don’t understand – the truth about teamwork became clear to me.
It was an amazing realization that has allowed me to appreciate others more, produce more incredible work and enjoy my time on this Earth a whole lot more.