TEAMWORK. Most of us know that true teamwork is the key that unlocks not only the collective potential – yet the individual potential as well. In my business experience, every successful team I was on – or that I led – was 100% attributable to the folks with whom I worked. Period. The rising tide truly did lift all boats.
Yet, I am continually amazed and baffled by those that simply do not – and will not – pull together as a team. You know what I mean……those individuals who compete with one another. They choose to not support one another. They allow passive aggressive behavior, over zealous competitive natures, negative commentary, and less than supportive social media or ‘water cooler’ discussions and tactics to creep into their daily routines and approaches. It is tragic – as this not only puts stress on the very fiber of the team; it is quite simply ‘negative Karma’ for those individuals.
In my experience, those that embrace this approach quite literally will reap what they sow. Yet, often it creates such havoc, discord, and hurt feelings in the process – that they leave scorched earth in their path. As I have written about in my books, we do not control these situations or individuals. All we can control are our own ABC’s (Attitudes, Behaviors, and Choices). This is so much easier said than done – as I can vouch from previous and current experience. Yet, though we wish we could shift those individuals’ perspectives and encourage their ability to support ALL members of the team; they and they alone own their behaviors and choices.
However, there are a few things we can do to foster true teamwork within our teams and build that spirit de corps. With consistency, the force of this positive momentum will ultimately squeeze out the negative energy being produced by those that are jealous, competitive, and do not root for the greater good of the entire team.
Step one: Build a sense of collective commitment to the company, mission, overall team, and the individuals on the team.
This commitment will create a sense of responsibility among the individual team members to override their individual goals. Winners realize that individual and team goals are not mutually exclusive. They are complimentary and build on one another. Members of strong teams take this commitment seriously. For them, it is deliberate and unconditional. These individuals help each other out – not only ‘certain’ members of the team…ALL members of the team. They make the ENTIRE team relationship a priority – even above their personal needs. At the very core, these team members put the interests of the team ahead of their own. And one last yet highly relevant point, successful team leaders certainly foster this – yet, the responsibility always resides with each and every team member. The leader can only create the atmosphere and try to foster this. One bad apple can, and most certainly has in my experience, spoil the whole bunch – if the team lets this happen. The team leader cannot always shift this behavior. Yet, one truism: it is the teams’ collective responsibility to nurture one another – each and every member – and hold one another accountable to the greater good.
Step two: Show love and appreciation to one another.
Strong, supportive teams share in the ability to show love and appreciation to each other on a consistent basis. This can be in the form of sharing compliments to one another – authentically – on a regular basis. Now, in the world of social media, it can be through consistently ‘liking’ or commenting on team members posts online. It can be through highlighting – in an unbiased manner – the successes of each team member in an open fashion. Building each team members’ self esteem and bolstering their efforts is a critical success factor in fostering sustainable effort and results – AND building a strong unified team.
Step three: A value system – or culture – is a necessary pillar in creating a strong team.
Often, the value system of a team is a subset of a larger value system within a company or organization. These shared values help create a bond between the team members as a way of working, interacting, and behaving together. Shared values serve to connect team members at a core level and this strengthens the team. The greatest teams in which I have been a part were anchored by a “Golden Rule” value set. We genuinely cared about each other. We wanted the best for each other. We were not jealous, envious, or competitive with one another. We did not ‘clique up’ or exclude individuals. We supported one another with no false expectation. We were generous with our compliments and did all we good to foster open, without boundary, encouragement. We were passionately aligned to a greater good – and we were unified in that approach.
Those of us who have been leaders many times in our lives most certainly have been exposed to teams that have been splintered. Typically, this happens when a person (or persons) is competitive, wanting to make a name for themselves, and will do so at the mercy of the greater team. The way we refute this is to always take the high ground. ALWAYS. Support each and every person equally. Encourage – early and often. Be generous with praise. Always be sincere and authentic in discussions with the individuals’ growth and their success at the heart of everything we do.
What I know for sure is this: what we put forth in our lives, will most certainly come back. Thus, we must look in the mirror and focus on OUR ABC’s, and believe the rest will take care of itself. And a bonus outcome of this is that we can sleep soundly at night knowing we are doing the best we can to learn our lessons in Earth School, teach those that are watching us through our actions and behaviors, and foster a loving, supportive and beautifully aligned team atmosphere.