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Why IS teamwork important?

Currently I’m working on a training curriculum for a 5-part series on Teamwork. It’s the part of my job I just love. Creating content and designing it in a way that helps leaders grow and develop is my JAM! While researching for this content I started wondering why it seems that not everyone believes in or is open to the idea of teamwork. Why do some leaders appear to naturally develop a strong team while others struggle to even connect with their team? I ran across a chapter in John C. Maxwell’s book on Teamwork that spelled it out clearly to me and I wanted to share it with you.

The first idea John explores is the Ego. I’ve seen this time and time again in both my corporate life and my nonprofit life. You know what this looks like right? These are the people who believe they know best, their ideas are the only ideas of importance and they believe they are the brightest person in the group. When they manage a group it typically is to direct the team on the tasks that need to get done. They don’t open the meetings up for discussion and there is not a free flow of ideas. If you have ever worked from someone like this than you are probably having flashbacks to feelings of being undervalued, underutilized, and frankly demoralized. All of which tends to lead to disengagement and over time a poor performing team.

The second idea of why leaders don’t tap into teamwork is Insecurity. My experience has shown me that when a leader is insecurity it typically has nothing to do with the rest of us on the team. Instead it is all about their own thoughts and feelings about their leadership abilities. This type of manager is usually someone that feels the need to control the knowledge because they fear being replaced or outshined. They horde the details of projects and parcel out information sparingly. And just like the results for an Ego lead team, an insecure leader’s team will be outperformed time and time again because it’s members check out and do the minimum amount of work required.

The third idea of why leaders don’t tap into teamwork is Naiveté. This is what I have seen as the most common reason new leaders miss the boat on the value of teamwork. New leaders tend to greatly underestimate the value of a team. And many times this is because they underestimate the work it takes to achieve a goal or a dream. They think their sheer will power and dedication will pull them thru.

I love the quote by John C. Maxwell “Nothing of significance was ever achieved by an individual acting alone.” When it comes to teamwork I don’t think there is anything more important than truly understanding this statement. Take a look at your own life and see if you can think of anything of significance that you have accomplished alone. Set aside your ego, insecurity and your naiveté in this thought process and really examine your accomplishments to date. Who was there to give advice when you landed your first big job, who helped you in the process of achieving your degree, who supported you when your first big project was a success. I can only speak for myself in saying that there is nothing I have ever accomplished where there was not someone supporting me, or guiding me, giving me feedback or assisting me. And I’m truly grateful for that experience of teamwork and I hope that I demonstrated that at the time.

If your one of those that simply don’t see the value of teamwork, I encourage you to examine why you believe that. And then try on the idea that you could accomplish more, go further, be more impactful when you operate in a team environment. I promise you if you truly want to accomplish something big in your life, you are going to need the support of a team.


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