What is teamwork? Boiled down, teamwork is harnessing the collective intelligence and capabilities of individuals, which leads to improved decision-making, increased efficiency, innovation, adaptability, and customer satisfaction — all of which are essential for the growth and sustainability of any business.
Clear communication and open collaboration are the keys to fostering teamwork. Think about how much the members of a family, sports team, or business must collaborate to get even the simplest of tasks done.
Getting dinner on the table seems routine, but let’s look at the collaboration that goes into it. One parent might earn the money to buy the food, and the other might find a recipe and go shopping while the kids pitch in by putting away groceries, assisting with cooking, or setting the table. Even those outside the family have contributed to the task — a doctor may have identified an allergy, and a grocery store manager made decisions about what sales to offer, all of which affect what ends up on the dinner plate.
Likewise, to sell a product or service, businesses have complex teamwork relationships to source supplies, reach customers, close deals, service accounts, and many other necessary steps. As a business owner, you are at the center of a wheel with many spokes — each representing a team member with their own goals, motivations and style of work, as well as their own tools and skill sets.
Diversity among team members enriches the overall dynamics of your business as long as you embrace these differences and can harness the unique strengths of each team member. Doing so can transform the challenges of diversity into opportunities for innovation and growth. As a business owner, your role is not just about managing these differences but leveraging them, ensuring that each spoke in the wheel contributes harmoniously, driving your business toward success.
In his 2002 book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable,” Patrick Lencioni outlines the top reasons teams break down:
Absence of Trust: When team members are unwilling to be vulnerable within the group, fearing that their weaknesses or mistakes will be used against them, communication is hindered and good ideas remain unexpressed.
Fear of Conflict: Without trust, a team cannot have unfiltered and passionate debates on ideas; instead, communication devolves into veiled discussions and guarded comments.
Lack of Commitment: If conflict is avoided, team members cannot fully commit to decisions, creating an environment where ambiguity clouds purpose.
Avoidance of Accountability: Without a clear plan of action, even the most focused team members hesitate to call out actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.
Inattention to Results: Lacking in trust, commitment, and accountability means team members will naturally put their individual needs, or the needs of their specific department, above the collective goals of the entire team.
Addressing these dysfunctions — preferably before they begin and have a chance to take root in your company culture — is crucial for building a high-performing team that can effectively collaborate and succeed.