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