Teamwork – What Does it Take?

A team is greater than the sum of its parts. As individuals our contributions are limited to a singular effort. As a team we can accomplish so much more. Teamwork requires more than technical competency.

On teams that I have lead, character and temperament often matter more than technical competency. From character and temperament comes the foundation of great teams; integrity, accountability, reliability, identity, empathy, loyalty, camaraderie, compassion, and optimism. These attributes will empower a team to do great things together and supports them to achieve any mission, or objective placed before them – not just that defined in the moment.

If technical competency is the measure of a teams success, then we are not doing enough on our teams; we are not striving to fulfill the goals of the organization and the mission and vision, and we are not endeavoring to achieve all that is possible and continuously improve that which we do to attain our goals.

Some may believe that all we can be is predicated on what we have already learned, and experienced in life. I submit that if one limits their view of the world and their ability to grow and succeed to what learning and experiences occurred in the past, that’s exactly where they will end up – in the past. There are an enumerable number of tools and skills that can be carried forward from learning and experiences of the past.  The key is to carry forward the best tools and skills, and adapt them for new challenges. As with any tool box, tools and skill sets are added as new jobs are tackled that require different tools and skills. Leadership is composed of an ever changing set of tools and practices that build and support individual and team foundations. A progressive vision includes continually adding the best tools and best skills to our individual and collective tool boxes in order to embody the spirit of continuous improvement in service to ourselves, our customers, and our organizations.

My expectations for my project and organizational teams:

What I want to see-

  • Embody the principles and spirit of teamwork – an esprit de corpse
  • Finish the project on time and within the financial constraints defined
  • Attention to detail
  • Own what’s yours
  • If you are responsible, provide due diligence and take initiative
  • If you are not responsible, take the initiative if you have a suggestion for a better way, see a potential problem or material weakness, etc.
  • Direct positive communication, resolution of issues in a professional and adult manner – this is non-negotiable. Find your voice.
  • Respect for your coworkers
  • Timely & detailed response
  • Be in service to others
  • Attention, give them what they ask for
  • Anticipate their needs and be proactive
  • Celebrate the success of your coworkers and help those who need it
  • Learn from this experience and all subsequent ones
  • Learn the technical aspects
  • Learn how to work together and value your co-workers’ contributions
  • Learn how to embrace continuous learning and continuous improvement
  • I expect authenticity and realize that we do not check our emotions at the door when we come to work.  At the same time, I expect each member or our teams to behave professionally with each other and our customers.

What I don’t want to see-

  • Making excuses and counterproductive questioning, which undermines the project and you. They do not go unnoticed and these behaviors are not acceptable.
  • Treating other coworkers with disrespect, verbal or in writing.
  • If you are determining your value on technical competency alone then you better make sure your level of expertise is compliant with industry standards and best practices and is top notch.
  • Hiding behind email, solitary confinement, and silence.
  • Unprofessional behavior such as gossip, whining, beefing, stewing, getting upset, inability to control your emotions, negativity and relying on others to get your  work done, or using others to undermine what we do as a team is unacceptable

To that end, effort, energy, and optimism mean a lot to my teams. The relationships you have with each other and that a leader has with each member of a team is predicated on these foundational aspects. We all have the capability to embody that effort, energy, and most importantly optimism. I have seen it in every member of my organizational, and project teams. It’s now up to each of you individually to ensure that your teams work as a TEAM.