There is an “I” in team. That’s not what we’ve been told our whole lives, but it’s true. It’s clear this old adage is meant to foster a spirit of cooperation, not competition. However, there is an “I” in team, and it is this “I” that makes all the difference in putting together a complete and strong, successful team. The “I”ndividual. Each individual in a team and the differences in the way they work from rest of the team are essential to building a balanced, strong, productive unit.
Some people are natural leaders and thrive on being the one in charge, overseeing projects or processes, or taking the reins and delegating to others. Obviously, if a team is composed of all or many leaders, there would be no one to delegate to. Everyone would have their own way of getting things done. A leader can sometimes be labeled a “control freak”. However, a leader is essential to keep a project on task, to make sure everyone plays a part, and to ensure each aspect of the task is being handled. Having someone who oversees the big picture and makes sure each member’s strengths and resources are being utilized to their full potential is essential to maximize a team’s effectiveness.
Another essential component of a strong team is having someone with expertise in a field or area of concern. Someone with a lot of years of experience in an industry carries an innate knowledge and a gut instinct for handling issues or problems that may arise. They may foresee problems ahead of the rest. Team members can sometimes see these “experts” as overbearing or “know it alls”, but they are invaluable to a team’s success, keeping things smooth by preventing problems and raising concerns.
Then there are the creative minds. For those who are detailed and task driven, the creative minds can be a challenge. They may be more laid back and focused on the big picture, not the details. They may seem not invested or unfocused. However, their contributions in brainstorming ideas and coming up with unique ways to see or do things help bring new perspectives to the mundane. Their laid back nature also contributes to the team’s harmony and keeps interpersonal issues from escalating.
Not everyone can think creatively or generate ideas quickly. However, a team needs someone who can fill in the knowledge gaps. It needs someone who is going to fill in the blanks by researching what needs to be done or what compliance concerns there may be in operating a business or in overseeing a specific project.
A team also benefits from having a “planner”, someone who will keep the team on track in meeting goals and ensuring all details are being addressed. They may seem to micromanage at times, but planners like to see that all aspects are addressed and will see them to completion.
Communication is essential for everyone in the team. Someone with the ability to communicate effectively with other team members, or to those who are being reported to, keeps everyone on the same page. Communication is the key to any relationship, and within a company or team, effective communication saves time, prevents misunderstandings, and fosters that team mentality.
Some people are natural team players. While it is essential that all members of a team are team players, having people who naturally operate that way is crucial. These might be the individuals who seem to lack drive or initiative, but when given a task are more than happy to complete it. They happily take on whatever is delegated to them. They are flexible and a great support in making sure the small things get done.
There is an “I” in team. There are several “I”s, and these differences while challenging at times, make a strong, complementary team. Everyone working together, recognizing our own weaknesses and appreciating the strengths in others that are different from our own, creates a cohesive unit that can meet the countless needs of functioning within a team or company.