Blog Image: By lumaxart (Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Merriam-Webster defines team as “a number of persons associated together in work or activity:”.

This definition leaves a lot open and would describe a wide variety of teams.  We often think about work teams as groups that report to the same manager or leader or people dedicated to finishing a project together.

Most people as they approach work each day think about themselves.  What do I need to do today, who do I need to talk to, what obstacle do I need to overcome?  While they may be “associated” with others, each person has a role to play and most of the time, we focus on our own role or how someone else is impacting our role.

To be truly a part of a team and contributor to a team, I believe it is important to look at the whole of the team and evaluate how your contributions are aiding the goals of the team.  If indeed you are to truly win together, perhaps some consideration of what it is that you are doing as a whole and how all the individual roles function could use some thought.

What happens when people look at how the team is doing rather than just how they are doing within the team?  Conversations open up about progress and obstacles faced by teammates, ideas and offers of help may come if we recognize that as a team, we are not expected to function alone, merely working near other people.

Much is written and said about being a leader.  In order for there to be great leaders, there must also be great ranks of people being led.  While I do believe that each of us has the opportunity to lead through our words and actions, regardless of our titles, I also believe we have the opportunity to be a part of a team and follow a lead.  How you contribute as a team member says a lot about your leadership.

Highly functional teams seem to understand this, share a common purpose and are all clear about that purpose.  While it is important that each member of the team contribute to the common purpose, when teams see success as a collective, rather than individual gain, more opportunities are open to “win” without necessarily achieving personal advancement.  You may begin to realize that a win for the team means more listening and less talking, more sharing and less taking.

I have found that achieving something as part of a team is as satisfying as achieving alone.  Sometimes the shared experience of the “win” is even better as it is shared with others.

What would happen if tomorrow you started your work day focused on your team — how you could be a better member of the team and what you could do to support those around you?  Are you brave enough to find out?

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