Teaming Up to Exceed Expectations

Examples of the power of teamwork can be seen everywhere. In nature, for example, large flocks of geese fly thousands of miles to their destination as the seasons change. These flocks are made up of hundreds of individual birds with limited capabilities to go the distance alone, but somehow nearly all of them make it to their destination. How do they do it? The answer is simple: TEAMWORK. One bird serves as leader while the others fly in formation to minimize wind resistance for the birds behind them. When the lead bird tires, he rotates to another position so a different bird assumes the responsibility of leading the flock. If each individual bird decided to make this long journey by itself, most — if not all — undoubtedly would fail. In contrast, when all the birds work together as a flock — as a team — they reach their goal and arrive at their final destination.

Birds also demonstrate another important aspect of effective teamwork. Have you ever noticed how a bird by itself may not be particularly energetic whereas when a number of birds get together they seem to energize each other. This phenomenon can be considered an example of synergy, a concept closely related to teamwork. Simply put, synergy is the action of two or more elements to achieve a result greater than they would achieve individually. This phenomenon is true with humans as well as in the animal kingdom.

Another way to define synergy is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In other words, 1 + = 3 or 4 or more. When team members cooperate and work together, they can always do more than if any one team member tried to accomplish the same goal alone. Engineers have learned that when geese fly in formation, each bird, by flapping its wings, creates an uplift for the bird that follows. Together the whole flock can fly over 70 percent further than if they fly alone. Now that’s synergy!

Perhaps the most obvious examples of teamwork — and synergy — can be found in athletics where teams driven by enthusiastic teamwork usually win, while a lack of synergy and teamwork generally results in losing. Even some sports normally considered individual sports require the efforts of a team. Consider the most famous cycling race of all, the Tour de France. Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong praises all his team members for making these victories possible. Various cyclists serve in different positions as they and Armstrong speed away on the predetermined route to each day’s destination in this grueling 21-day race. Supporting the cyclists are the ground crew, the communications team, and other teams that enable the cyclists to be better than their competitors.

Lance Armstrong sums up the power of effective teamwork in any endeavor this way, “No one wins alone.”

Teamwork is Rewarding

The benefits of teamwork among animals and athletic events can be fairly spectacular, but teamwork in your situation can also offer tremendous benefits and rewards.

Working as a team member will help you expand your job skills, earn greater success at work, enjoy increased recognition, gain leadership experience, be available for advancement and promotion — and ultimately receive more compensation for results!

All these benefits — rewards — are made possible through teamwork because T.E.A.M. literally means:


When a team works effectively and efficiently, everyone wins — you, your teammates, the customers, the organization’s shareholders, and the employer. A successful team is truly an example of synergy — that is, accomplishing more as a team than you could by working alone. It’s been said that, “Teams are the way ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

Why does effective teamwork lead to progress, increased productivity, and greater success? Effective teamwork leads to improved results because teams are able to apply the collective knowledge, skill, experience, power, creativity, and insight of everyone on the team to accomplish a given goal. Ken Blanchard says pointedly, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Everyone working together saves time, limits mistakes, and reduces waste.

When you analyze the power of teams, you can see that effective teamwork:

  • Enables team members to build new skills and reach their greatest individual potential
  • Focuses team members’ collective knowledge and skill into a powerful force to accomplish a specific job or goal
  • Facilitates quick, clear, and continual communication
  • Boosts the performance level in every area of the job to be done
  • Increases the bottom line of the entire organization

The word “teamwork” appears everywhere; it is increasingly becoming an integral, dynamic part of business, family, charitable organizations, sports and recreation. The concept of working together as a finely-tuned team is recognized as important to success in any endeavor. Unfortunately, organizing into a team is no guarantee of success. If teams aren’t always successful, it may be because time proven principles of teamwork were not applied effectively. Or it could also mean the task or goal did not lend itself to teamwork. Teams are not the solution or answer to every problem. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made by management because there isn’t time to develop a team, or the nature of the task or goal is not appropriate to assign to a team. But generally, teamwork is a win-win approach. Teams may not all succeed, but teamwork always does! Individuals and organizations are discovering that if applied wisely the practice of teamwork can bring greater success and satisfaction in all realms of achievement — personal and professional.

Empower Yourself

As you focus on empowering team members, you cannot forget to empower yourself—to develop and use more of your leadership potential. Becoming the effective leader you were intended to be offers you the opportunity to give of yourself. And it is in giving of yourself that your goals become tangible realities. Consider these opportunities you have as an effective organizational leader:

  • Give of yourself. Life is a gift to you. Give back the best of yourself. Austrian philosopher Martin Buber said,

“There are no gifted and un-gifted here…only those who withhold themselves
and those who give of themselves.”

  • Give of yourself to your family and friends. You are enriched by giving of yourself to your family and friends, revealing your innermost being and offering to them your unconditional love and support.
  • Give of yourself to your community and your country. You have unique talents and abilities you can put to use to make society better for everyone—talents that no one else can offer.
  •  Give of yourself to your team members and other business associates. One of your richest sources of satisfaction and happiness lies in the close personal feelings you develop for the people with whom you work. The bond of trust and mutual encouragement you develop is more valuable than any corporate title or any amount of money you may ever accumulate.

As your positive self-image grows stronger, others see you in a new light. They are inclined to believe that you can take on added responsibility and that you can aid in the achievement of even more important organizational goals.

Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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