In my opinion, although being catchy phrase, “Why there is no I in team” is one of the most overused and possibly most misunderstood phrase of today’s culture. We see it everywhere, posted at the work place, plastered on signs hung from overhead steel girders, sports facilities and all over military bases, apparently anywhere someone or some organization deems a “Team” atmosphere will be valuable.
In order to develop a “Team” atmosphere, we must first decide what we consider a “Team” to be, and although at first glance this may appear to be a moronic question, is it? One such definition may be “a person belonging to a group or team, who performs whatever action, physical or mental, which enhances the chances of the team achieving its goal, regardless of the effects on the individual.” That is a lot of reference to “an individual”….but we will get back to that later.
Possibly a perfect definition, as I’m sure everyone has heard an excited fan yell “Take one for the team,” from the stands, or when a boss has asked someone to stay late to complete an important task. Intentionally taking an 90 mph fastball in the ribs in order to reach base in a 0-0 late inning game, working late, taking an extra shift, or even taking part or all of a sick team mates watch would be considered self-sacrifice in the name of the “Team.”
However, depending on your point of argument, “communism” can also fit nicely into this definition. Every individual gives up all identity and personal goals, in order to benefit the group or team, and sacrifices to make the team successful regardless of personal consequences. Suddenly we have a dilemma of explaining what actually constitutes a “Team” much alone explain why there is or isn’t an I in it. I don’t mean to be argumentative or confrontational, blame it on my leadership style, but I always stressed to my teammates… Think First / Think Fast. Know why you’re doing something, like turning right instead of left, or else you’ll never master it, because you’re really not sure what you’re attempting to master, at some point it has to become second nature.
I, for one, do not agree with the term “there is no I in team,” but rather believe “there are a lot of “I-s” in a TEAM.” The team is comprised of a number of little i-s who come together to pool their resources, talents, characters, desires and focused energy to achieve a common goal. I was fortunate enough to work with a group of men, that right wrong or indifferent, we stood together. Our common saying was there may not be an “I” in team, but there is a “Mate”, short for team mate.
An individual, must train and practice for hours upon hours in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. His effort may be enhanced by a leader demonstrating and constantly tweaking his actions, in order the make the teammate better, and helping him understand his position, for the benefit of the team. However, without the drive and persistence of the individual, the little i enduring hours of frustration, sweat, fatigue and soreness, there would be no improvement in the team.
You may not agree with my position and that is perfectly fine, in fact it’s great. What I want leaders to do is analyze everything you share with your team. Don’t become one of the herd mentality and go along with the program because it’s the current popular thing to do. Your teammates depend on you to lead them in the right direction. Good luck accomplishing that.
What is the status of your Team? Are you ready for battle? Is your team focused on the tasks at hand? Leaders, it doesn’t matter what phase of life you are in, your family, your church and your friends are a Team, and what role on the team are you playing?
Photo credit: The U.S. Army / Foter.com / CC BY
Photo credit: Virginia Guard Public Affairs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC
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