What role do you play?
There are many different kinds of teams, and many synonyms to label them.
Did you forget any? How about FRIENDS? FAMILY? CO-WORKERS??
You may have heard the old saying ‘There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM’. Simply put, the reply to this is yes, and no. Strictly speaking, when you spell the four letter word out TEAM , there is no letter ‘I’. Now there is a popular joke response floating about the internet that IF you type the word TEAM in certain fonts, you get a lowercase ‘i’ hidden in the negative space of the letter ‘A’. Often the caption that follows is something like ‘I found the ‘i’, it’s hidden in the ‘A-hole’. This can be true in more ways than one.
First off, let’s address the ‘I’ in TEAM.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses an ‘I’
Teams are groups of INDIVIDUALS working TOGETHER for a common goal. So the ‘I’ in TEAM stands for INDIVIDUAL, and that has good points and bad points. Every INDIVIDUAL is unique and has unique needs which have to be addressed. Sometimes these individuals add skills and qualities to the group dynamic that improves the group’s overall performance. That is where the acronym T.E.A.M. comes into play, because TOGETHER EACH ACHIEVES MORE. It’s a wonderful thing when it works out that way, but sometimes you get those negative elements that don’t play well with others. They are the ‘a-holes’ bringing down the team. In those cases, that negative player must either be corrected, or at worst cut, for the greater good of the squad. We are ALL individuals, and WE are all UNIQUE, and we each have our respective roles to play. We don’t always get to pick our teams, sometimes teams pick us, and other times we are thrown together by circumstance. Not everyone in the same organization will get along all the time, or even like each other. Whether you like it or not, you on still on each other’s team. In those trying situations, the INDIVIDUAL you need to focus on is YOURSELF. Are you the solution, or part of the problem?
Who’s in charge around here?
Every effective group has someone leading the organization. Being a leader takes courage, discipline, and determination. It is a very hard job that can be lonely. You can be open to harsh criticism when things aren’t going well, be accused of playing favorites, insulted by underlings who don’t like your leadership style, or feel you don’t recognize their contributions. Occasionally these gripes are true. We’ve all had bad bosses at one time or another. Leadership, like any new skill takes time to develop. Sometimes, happenstance requires that a void in the chain of command be filled. If no qualified INDIVIDUAL can be found, willing volunteers may be asked to pick up the mantle, or have it forcibly thrust upon them. This is what is sometimes referred to as ‘trial by fire’. You’ll either rise to the occasion, or burn out. If you suddenly find that you are now the ‘captain of the ship’, then YOU need to act like it, and run things as best as possible, while consulting with other captains of other ships, reading the appropriate manuals, and making the tough calls. This also includes listening to the questions and concerns of your subordinates, some of whom may have more seniority than you.
IF you find that YOU are NOT in a position of authority, and the duly appointed captain refuses to acknowledge the approaching iceberg, YOU have two choices.
Stay the course and hope for the best, or abandon ship.
The LONE WOLF
As a leader, we MAY be able to force someone to do something they don’t want to do, but they won’t do it well, and may even quit or take action against us.
As a team-mate, we MAY be able to convince our squad to run a play, but everyone would need to be on board and, the team leader would still need to agree to it. There may be repercussions if we just did it without authorization, EVEN IF IT WORKED.
As an INDIVIDUAL, you can always convince yourself to do anything you really want to do.
Sometimes it’s just impossible to find a group that fits, or create a new group, or convince an old group to try something different that you really want to do. The lone wolf has total freedom, but that freedom comes at the cost of camaraderie. One really is the loneliest number, but regret is also a terrible thing. If your team or group is holding you back, it may be time to explore new horizons and challenges solo. This requires a special kind of courage and strength, because the path of the lone wolf is the toughest. If you falter and need help, you’re on your own. There’s no one to recognize your accomplishments, or say ‘good job’ at the end. Only YOU can decide if it’s worth the risk of going it alone, or facing the regret of never knowing if you could have done it. As INDIVIDUALS we all have the option of taking our ball and going home, or finding new groups to play with, or just practicing our skills alone. Self-improvement begins with SELF. No matter where we go, there we are. We can be part of many different groups simultaneously, but wherever we chose to be we need to bring our ‘A-game’ and give it our best effort.
We cannot control the actions of other people, we ultimately can only control ourselves. As always, I wish you success and happiness.