By Billy Arcement—The Candid Cajun
Teamwork is a practice that avid sports fans relish and strongly advocate. These fans understand that, if a team is to ultimately be successful, they must learn to work together. Cooperation, joint effort, collaboration—it doesn’t matter what other words one uses to describe teamwork. When properly implemented, teamwork allows a task to be accomplished in an efficient, effective and usually, less costly manner.
We recently saw the dramatic effects of great teamwork in the war on Iraq. With precision unmatched in the annals of war, American troops overcame the Iraq forces. Each step was a well-planned team effort between varieties of military forces. In the early stages of the formation of our country, leaders forged ahead as a team to lay the foundation for governance that still works over 200 years earlier.
Within a business or educational setting, teamwork must be part of the culture. The responsibility for the successful implementation of a team culture rests with organizational leaders. It is their job to create an environment where teamwork can flourish. Failure to do this can ultimately result in a business fading away into oblivion.
To implement a successful team environment, leaders must chart a very clear direction of where the business is headed. Every employee must know what part their job responsibilities play in the grand scheme of things. Imagine how many games a sports team would win if no one on the team understood their roles and responsibilities and the game strategy. Why would a business or school leader think otherwise?
Successful teams are willing to make a commitment for the good of the team. It’s not good enough to have a plan. Those responsible for achieving the plan must be willing to do the necessary activities needed to make the vision a reality. The “what’s in it for me” attitude does not exist in a strong team environment. Team leaders understand that the good of the team comes before their personal glory and if the organization does well, they will do well.
Winning teams work in a climate of trust. Team members respect each other on both a personal and professional level. They make an effort to understand each other’s point of view on an issue. They openly agree to disagree without personal attacks and encourage the expression of ideas, opinions and feelings. And, in the end, they have enough trust in each other to know that compromise will yield the best approach to accomplishing the mission. Without trust, no team can survive.
Team members support the development of job skills. Strong team leaders know that a worker cannot afford to remain static in his or her learning curve. For a team to grow, the skills, talents and abilities of team members must grow. Even Michael Jordan continued to horn his athletic skills at the peak of his athletic successes. When a team grows through the personal growth of its members, the range of accomplishment also grows.
Effective teams use group skills to make progress. Great teams understand that no one individual is more valuable than the team itself. Yes, some can make greater contributions but even their success depends upon other team members. For example, great quarterbacks, while receiving much of the glory associated with success, are quick to credit the blocking of their offensive line as critical to their success as a passer. They also understand that without the supreme efforts of running backs, the passing game would not be as effective. Great team leaders know that it is the collective skills of the entire team used in harmony that is the major success factor.
Teams that win possess the right attitude, perseverance and a hunger to succeed. They look for the positive side of every issue and are willing to work however diligent they must to bring success to the team effort. They don’t settle for the “this is good enough” barrier. They only settle for the very best that can come from their collective efforts.
Why not get the members of your team together today to discuss these points and determine how well each practice exists within the walls of your organization? Implement improvements where needed and you will be well on your way to greater interpersonal relationships, accomplishments, and profits. And that my friend is not a bad way to run a business or an educational system.