Five years ago facilitating a client’s leadership retreat I asked a simple question…
“What is teamwork?”
Of the 12 leaders in the organization, a small regional credit union, we heard the traditional answers and one that stood out.
The one that stood out was:
“Teamwork is a series of individual interdependent successful efforts.”
That definition blew me away.
That IS what teamwork really is.
Teamwork only exists and only occurs when each individual team member successfully fulfills their expected role on the team.
Have you ever had teamwork not work?
If so, what was the cause?
Think about how it failed.
Where, how did it fail?
Notice that it really wasn’t teamwork that failed.
What failed, most likely, was that one team member’s effort whom other team members and the overall team was dependent on.
Each team member’s efforts are dependent on others on the team.
The problem with fixing teamwork problems is that too many people focus on fixing the “teamwork.”
The discussion too often centers around how the team members can interact better, communicate more, collaborate more consistently, etc. and the discussion ignores what usually is happening.
Instead, the focus should be on the interdependent team members’ individual efforts.
That’s where the true magic in teamwork comes from, and how it works in sports.
That’s why “teamwork never fails,” because its individuals that fail teamwork. Not the other way around.
There are two contexts to address to ensure that teamwork thrives and generates championship
First, each team member must understand their role in relation to the other team members and how the
interdependency relates, and…
Secondly, each team member must be committed to being held accountable to performing his or her
role at the highest level.
Do those two things and championship team performance can thrive at your company, as it does
in all of sports.
Getting people on-board for high-level teamwork and understanding this definition of teamwork will
end the finger pointing and blaming of others as is the case in many small businesses.