Teams? Or Tumours?

I tolerated the phrase “There is no I in TEAM” for quite a while. I knew what it meant, but it just didn’t sit well with me. Most of the people development community I was familiar with used the phrase in workshops, coaching and other activities as if it were Holy Writ. Of course, what it meant was to put the team’s goals, objectives, vision, and so forth above one’s own. It also encouraged esteeming the contributions of other members of the team above one’s own. What this led to was an over-reliance on “team building” and its derivatives. In reality, what emerged from many “team building” sessions was not great teams but great tumours. They had a certain semblance to healthy tissue but that was all.

Of course there is I in TEAMS. Each cell in our body is like a universe of its own. I wrote about LEGO block Leadership and having Organismic Companies (Organismic Organizations, if you like that better) also. They were all about ensuring that the discrete building blocks, or persons, we use and have are nurtured, integrated and freed to be autonomously productive. Can you trust each member of your staff to operate independently in their assigned sphere, whether at the office or remotely? Will your company’s output still be as if they were all working cohesively on the shop floor?

Each and every I is of great significance to you if you’re serious about having great teams at any level. Bring on board, grow, nurture, import, cross-pollinate; whatever you do, select and groom each carefully, better than you would do for your own self. If any doesn’t feel like fitting in and wants out, help that one transit or fire that person if you need to. Pay attention to each one. There’s a reason why it’s “pay attention”!

I like Steve Farber’s “Greater Than Yourself.” That’s why my motto is “Greater Than MYself.” Have TEAMS, not TUMOURS.

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