Team Success

People have to believe that they can make an impact. How do you create an environment that empowers them and supports them so that they can do just that? Believing that you can create change and make a positive impact no matter what your role or position is is fundamental to the success of an organization.

There’s an old saying among sports coaches, “A champion team will defeat a team of champions.” However, as much as we all admire the ideals of teamwork and connectedness there’s also the alternative notion of the “rugged individual” or the “prima donna” who stands out from the crowd and succeeds without help from anyone.


Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

Teamwork redefined

Positive psychology has always emphasized the personal wellbeing benefits of social relationships and connectedness to others. If we take it a step further, we can say that connectedness makes good business sense too, improving organizational performance at the highest levels.

Studies show that working with a united team of colleagues helps to develop interactive routines that harness the unique talents of each team member. Performance is more a function of the familiarity that a team member develops with the assets of a given organization. This is a nice way of saying stars only shine due to their colleagues.

In another study, team familiarity (the average number of times that each member had worked with every other member) was a better predictor of guest satisfaction and sustained success than total experience of individual team members.

The makeup of a team

Psychologist and business professor, Adam Grant, summarizes the above findings saying, “So once we get the right people on the bus, let’s make sure they spend some time driving together.”

Simply working with other people doesn’t mean that you’re working as a team, real teamwork implies collaboration, communication and the acknowledgement of a common purpose. A group is more than a gathering of people and not all groups are teams. Teams are a very particular form of group, they are interdependent and focused on structure and activities.

One of the definitions of team that is used in Psychology is this one, “A team is a group of two or more people who interdependently seek to meet a common purpose, often through problem solving, in order to meet their own and their organization’s goals. At a minimum, a team should be a cooperative unit and, at its best, a team is a collaborative unit.”

Different from other strengths that could be cultivated by yourself, teamwork is all about others. Based on the findings of the character strengths in organizations, they found that individually-focused strengths like creativity are unlikely to occur with other-focused strengths like teamwork. When you work in a team, you’re shifting the focus from you to others.

Leader as facilitator

It’s not the role that defines the leader it’s the leader that defines the role and success. So many people believe leadership is an individual sport, a burden to be bore alone. When in actuality it is a team sport. And for you to reach your fullest potential your team must be set up to realize their fullest potential.

A team is nothing but a group of people working in the same office space. Each person has their own strengths and skills. Each could succeed and do great on their own. However, if they worked as an effective team they could accomplish extraordinary results.

Hence, teamwork requires facilitation. A group scores much better if executive administrators are put in. Because they have special skills of facilitation. They manage the process. They understand the process. Any team who manages and pays close attention to work will significantly improve the team’s performance.

In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Questions of the week:

  • How do I become a better team player?
  • How do I better align my efforts and actions with the my organization’s goals?
  • What is my role and how do I contribution to the overall success?

Take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions. Share your thoughts and ideas with your team and your leaders, your family and your friends.

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Kris Klinger is an accomplished visionary and leader. He lives in Downtown Los Angeles and is a staff and faculty member at the University of Southern California. Kris is passionate about nurturing and supporting strong servant-leader and employee-centric cultures. Cultivating transparency and trust; honest and candid communication; personal and professional development; individual and team empowerment. He is also an author working on his first book.

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