Not just in team sports

This time of year, there’s a daily drumbeat of sports news, and it makes me think about teamwork, and how important it is, not just in sports. Many people have spoken and written about teamwork. Here’s just a sample.

Vince Lombardi said…Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

From Phil JacksonThe strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.

And Andrew CarnegieTeamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision…the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives.

Each of these quotes highlights different facets of teamwork—common vision, shared commitment and goals, individual commitment to the group effort, and recognition that individuals and the team are important.

Teams that work

When I look for non-faculty team members, I’m not so concerned about the academic degree they have or their titles, but the degree of their motivation, commitment, creativity, tolerance for ambiguity, eagerness to learn new things, persistence and willingness to put their own egos aside for the good of the group and achievement of shared goals. I want people who are willing to accept differences,  aren’t driven to protect their own units or ask what’s in it for me, find good in each person, even the quirkiness, because that makes us who we are, and who practice tolerance, respect and a willingness to trust, because people cannot work together without trust. I want people who value all kinds of diversity, because that gives us clearer vision. The best teams are filled with people willing to step up and do the hard things, give credit, be generous, and are open-minded and willing to forgive (not carry grudges). I want people who recognize that just because we’ve done it one way forever doesn’t mean we cannot change. In fact, having done something one way forever usually means it is time to change. As in sports, building effective teams takes work and practice. It takes time for members to get to know one another and work through differences. But there’s a huge potential bonus after the start-up phase. The most effective teams can change organizations and communities, discover new worlds, create innovations and much better products, deliver value, have a great time, and ultimately, change themselves.

Happy Wednesday, Barbara

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