Are You Really A Team Player?

The word “team” is a perfectly good word that is in great danger of crossing the line that divides meaningful language from jargon.  We’ve probably all heard it.

“You have to be a team player”, they say.

“I am a team player” they write on their resumes,

And, even CEO’s talk to the masses of the importance of being on the organizational “team”

You get the idea.

The point is that we throw around this word “team” in a very cavalier fashion, maybe because it has that warm glow of inclusion about it.  Who knows?

But when do you know that you are part of a real team?

Here’s what I think:

You’re probably part of a real team if:

  • You have come together for a purpose that is well defined and clearly stated;.
  • You are able to state that purpose without hesitation and when others do the same, there is a common understanding of why you are together;
  • You recognize and understand the role you play in fulfilling the purpose;
  • You appreciate that your role is no more, or less, important than someone else’s ;
  • You accept that the fulfillment of the purpose matters more than your individual ambition and;
  • You understand that when the purpose is fulfilled, the team re-forms to focus on another purpose… or disbands.

Of course, nothing is simple. There are all kinds of teams… independent teams, interdependent teams, multi-disciplinary teams, sports teams, project teams, self-managed teams. Each has its challenges.  But, it seems to me that no matter how big or complicated your team is, to capably function as a team, these things have to be present.

Otherwise, you’re probably a group.

And by the way… you don’t have to be a member of a team to fulfill a worthy purpose or accomplish good things.  Sometimes it’s just as effective to do things on your own.  But if you say you are part of a team just know that it takes more than just saying it to make it so.

Just for fun, click here to see a team that works together to fulfill a very entertaining purpose.

What comes to mind for you when you think about “team”?  What differentiates a team from a group for you?



Filed under Building Relationships, Leading Teams

6 responses to “Are You Really A Team Player?

  1. dmbaldwin

    Really great reading this posting Gwyn. I was meeting with a group of leaders from our organization last night. We decided we were a group not a team. Some wanted to be a team, others liked it the way it was.
    I think your post would have been a good discussion starter last night. I think I’ll share your blog with those that were there and get their feedback.
    Thanks so much,

  2. Gwyn Teatro

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks so much for your comments! I would love to learn how your leadership group perceived the notion of team vs group!

    thanks for coming by!

  3. dmbaldwin

    We all agreed that we are not a team. That’s the group that meets once/month. Our staff team that meets once a week agrees that we are a team based on your post. Also, we felt like the fact that we are sharing life together as well as leading our church made us a team.
    We decided to work toward making the monthly group, which if everyone attended would be close to 20 a community. We decided that was different from a team in that we would concentrate on resourcing and relationships and let the project focused stuff go to the one-on-ones I would have with them.
    We talked about the wobble in our system. The weekly meeting is with paid staff. We’re keeping up in a church that is growing by 20%/year and averaging 2100 on the weekend. The larger group that meets once/month is made up of volunteers and the weekly team of paid staff. Those volunteers can’t keep up with the rapid growth of the organization because they just don’t have the time.
    It was a great discussion sparked by your post.
    Thanks so much,

  4. Gwyn Teatro

    It’s great that you have taken the time to make the various distinctions. It seems to give clarity to the functions of the various parts of your organization.

    I’m so glad you found the post of practical use, Doug. It makes the writing so much more worthwhile.

    Thank you!! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Taking Ownership — hr bartender

  6. i had worked with both the kind of people it hurts if you find that people you are working with is a mere group here is my personal experience
    and what ever it is a single solitude person in a Team can slay the team

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