There is No ‘I’ in Team…But There is an ‘M’ and an ‘E’
Every so often I hear business teachers and coaches mention that there is no “I” in the word team. I understand that what is meant by many of them is that one shouldn’t place one’s own needs above that of the team. But all too often some individuals take it to the extreme and basically neglect their own needs in order (as they perceive it) to allow the team to perform at it’s best. This is where the line really needs to be drawn because if one neglects their own needs, then one’s potential contribution to the team can and will be lacking to say the least.
Sometimes a person is part of a team because they’re told by a superior to be part of it, others because they’re asked. Still many others go out and search for a team they can be part of whether it be as part of a job search or a volunteer group. Regardless of which team a person belongs to, that team will never benefit to it’s fullest by you being a part of it, without you receiving back something from the team in return for being a part of it.
Being Part of the Team
We are all to one extent or another a part of a team, whether it be a professional organization, a sports team after work, a group of friends who like to hang out or as a family member. Why do I say that? Because as a member of a team, the way we act (or fail to act) will always in some way shape or form effect other members of the team. We may not always be able to change which team we belong to (e.g. being born into a family), but in cases of teams we choose to be part of due to love for a particular cause (a volunteer organization) or due to necessity (a job in order to pay your bills) we must always be cognizant of the fact that each person has their own particular needs.
I’ve joined various teams throughout my life and in some cases, it was truly a joy to be involved . In other cases, I remember feeling like my life energy was slowly being drained out of me when I met or talked with a team causing me to be almost emotionally and psychologically drained afterwards (I’m sure no one has ever felt that feeling before…:-) ).
Looking back, the times I felt good being a member of a team was when I was able to align the purpose of the team with my own personal needs. Whether it be work or a volunteer organization, aligning the team’s goals with my own personal goals was key to the entire experience of being a team member. In turn, the team got the best from me with regards to enthusiasm, work ethic and ideas. The times when my personal goals did not align with the goals or purpose of the team were the times when I would feel less enthusiastic about being a team member. My work ethic would still be there but the team would not get the best out of me with regards to enthusiasm or ideas. Why? At first I couldn’t understand the reason but later on I realized it was due to the goals of the team not aligning with my own personal goals in some form.
Over time, my enthusiasm would become affected and I’d find myself not enjoying being a member of the team or worse, feeling that the team was doing nothing more than taking up precious time. Time I could be dedicating towards some other cause or endeavor. Whenever that occurs, you start becoming a liability to the team rather than a valuable asset.
Being True to Yourself
Regardless of what team a person is part of, it’s really important to keep one’s personal goals in line with the goals of the team to some extent. Doing so will allow the relationship between you and the team you’re involved with to be mutually beneficial.
In the short term, the time spent with the team will definitely be more enjoyable. In the long term, team members or others outside of the team will more likely see you as a valuable asset to have on other teams.
So why am I saying all this? Because, if you find yourself not enjoying your involvement with a team, then it may be time to look in the mirror and determine whether you should be a part of the team or if you need to move on.