Being on a team can be a great opportunity for us to pool our skills to reach goals and achievements that would be difficult by ourselves. While good teams take advantage of talent and increase effectiveness, teams that don’t work well together can be a source of frustration. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of being on a team, and recognizing team members strengths, allow leaders to place them in a situation to be successful.
One of the greatest advantages of being on a team is being able to divide up the work and reduce the load on each person. On a Team that I participated in once we also cross trained each other so if there was a failure or a loss, we were still an effective team. Each member gets focus on doing the part he is best at. A downside to this division of labor is that there are some individuals who take advantage of others and fail to do their part. Are there people like this in your family? Are there people like this in your peer group at work? Are there people like this in your clique at church? Is it you? Are you walking by the young man there by himself with your head down, so you don’t have to talk to him?
Whether it is in the military or in the corporate world, any time a group of individuals come together there is potential for conflict due to inherent differences in personality. Politics, disagreements and misunderstandings can slow progress and cause frustration among team members. The flip side is that working with people with varying personalities brings diversity and freshness of ideas. Team members can learn from each other and benefit from compromises. As a leader, how open to ideas from our team should we be? What are the right subjects to have family meetings about? At what point in the governance of your church should you be included? Have you made yourself available to new ideas?
Working on a team can lead to long and meaningful friendships forged through common interests and shared experiences. Athletes often form long-lasting bonds with their teammates. Coworkers may become friends after getting to know one another better through projects. I don’t think there is anything stronger than the bond formed between two men sharing a “foxhole”. Being friends with a teammate can be a disadvantage if it creates disagreements between them. In that situation, the work may put a strain on the relationship and cause friends to drift apart. Are we sharing the proverbial “foxhole” with our wives? Are there more decisions we should include her in?
All teams create a sense of responsibility on its members. This sense of accountability can be an advantage for those who like to have an external source of pressure (especially failure) to motivate them, but it does not suit those who prefer not to feel beholden to others’ expectations. For example, some people choose to play individual rather than team sports so they don’t feel that their performance will affect others and vice verso. Can we as leaders help relieve some of this burden, our families or friends feel, so they will join the team?