Is there really no ‘I’ in Teamwork?

We hear it all the time. For some of us, we picture a coach, manager or parental figure leaning over us in an authoritative and definite voice as they say or spray it at us: “There is NO ‘I’ in teamwork!”… But what if the reverse is true?! Why would it be, you may be thinking. Essentially because what we want and need today is not just a team, but a high-performing team – and that is the key word here – that high performance focus changes the ballgame and the strategy required to win it.

Simply put, there may be no ‘I’ in team, but there certainly is in ‘win’ and when you’re aiming for the moon, you need not just a team, but a team of stars to get there.
Still not convinced? Let’s look at the flaws in conventional wisdom and explore why being selfless (taking the ‘I’ out of team) CANNOT be conducive to creating a high performing team.

Is being selfless really what it takes to build a good team? And if so is that a good thing? Consider this: If we put everyone else’s needs before our own objectives, are we even doing our job – are we playing our part optimally? Probably not – And what is the psychological fall out if we also become a doormat in the process? If I feel unappreciated and demoralised, do I keep going? Will I be ready and able to keep supporting my team mates indefinitely?

Truth #1: A high performing team relies on every team member to be united AND accountable.

The real truth of the matter is that high performing team require accountability. And there is no accountability without ‘I’. So the question then becomes how do I promote that sort of accountability? That sort of engagement and commitment to doing my role to be part of the team’s success?

There’s a special recipe to achieving that. Let’s break this down to some clear steps and explore how you can use this new insight to drive excellence & success in your team. Let’s consider the psychological process we each go through when we commit to a team ideal or goal. It breaks down to some simple steps you can take to use this knowledge to build a more effective team in your workplace or organisation, because let’s face it – it takes more than a cliché here and there to make it work in practice.

I call these the 5 ‘C’s of accountability and as a leader you can help each team member take these steps to accountability:

  1. Check the people involved are CAPABLE and have the capacity to do what is required of them
  2. Make sure your team-members are each CLEAR on what is expected of them
  3. Establish the CONSEQUENCES of teamwork, success and failure so the want to step up
  4. Develop their CONFIDENCE so they stay engaged and on top of things
  5. Ensure they are COMMITTED to the big picture goal – get agreement and discover their ‘why’ to help them stay focused on that objective.

Food for thought – next time you see someone in your team not performing or ‘being a team player’ focus not on helping them downplay their role or be selfless, but on the practical steps above to help them reconnect with the team’s ‘why’ so they bring their individual excellence to bear on your team’s ultimate goal. Aim for the moon in this way and you will create stars – step by step.