Teams have a long history reaching back into the early ages of humanity. Why has the idea of teamwork survived the passage of time and the challenges of the development? Very simply, because teams work.
Teams add value to every endeavor, and dramatically increase the likelihood of success. A team can improve the quality of work, increase the quantity of work, and also enhance personal enjoyment of work. The value and power of a team cannot be denied.
The concept of a “team” is well known, well used, and often abused. But we never really take the time to examine what a team is, nor do we often adequately define it. This being the case it is important to begin with a good working definition of team. What then is a team?
We All Have a Basic Knowledge of Team
I have no doubt that you have been introduced to the power and dynamic nature of a functioning team. If you think about it, you probably have many stories about how “teams” have added value to your life and helped you to succeed.
Personal experience gives us all some knowledge of what a “team” is. But do we really understand what a team is and how it functions? I have a basic understanding of Rugby, but I don’t really understand the game or how it is played. This is true of many sports. Of course there are many who understand what a team is, but it is surprising how many don’t.
For every healthy team there are many unhealthy teams. This suggests that maybe we don’t have such a good working knowledge of what a team is, or how to properly build one. To create a winning team it is important to know where to begin. And so we begin with the task of defining “team.”
Team is a Big Topic
Any attempt to define team must first recognize the enormity of the subject. The concept of a “team” is simply too big to form a concise definition that will encompass all that in entails.
“Team” is a concept that requires its own book to unravel its complexities. Even that is not sufficient. And to be honest, there are not many good team books around. This is largely because there is far too much subject matter for one book to cover well.
A whole book written exclusively about “teams”—let alone a simple definition—would miss the mark on some level. And this would not necessarily be the fault of the writer.
Trying to unravel and clarify the mystery of a team is a daunting task at the best of times. The subject matter is simply too large in its scope, and too comprehensive in its nature, for any single effort, let alone a single sentence—which is what a definition must attempt.
Team is a Complex Subject
Not only is the concept of “team” a big topic, but team building is one of the most complex issues of leadership. This makes defining it even more difficult.
“Team” is complex for many reasons. Complexity refers more specifically to the existence of many key and interrelated components. A thing is “complex” when it is composed of many interconnected parts, and the idea of a “team” certainly has many interconnected parts.
A single individual is a complex combination of strengths, thoughts, emotions, decisions, and personal traits that cannot be defined or analyze in Doctoral Thesis, let alone a single sentence. Where do you begin? What do you include? What aspects will be important to your readers? How can you possibility do justice to the uniqueness and diversity of various individuals? A hard task to be sure.
Now consider the complexities involved with a group of people working together on a team. The challenge has increased exponentially in complexity.
Team building is complex because many key factors are required for success: developing loyalty, assessing the skills and strengths of team members, assigning appropriate responsibilities, vision casting, conflict resolution, and creating a positive team environment. These are only a few of the leadership issues that contribute to team building.
The concept of a “team” is a complex subject!
Team Can Be Difficult to Define
What is a team? That would seem like a relatively easy question to answer, but it is not quite as straight forward as one might think. The concept of “team” is much more difficult to define in a concise manner than one would anticipate. In fact, it may be one of the single most difficult words in leadership to define. Here is why!
The concept of a “team” is one of gigantic proportions. This is a huge subject filled with many key and interrelated components. This makes it perhaps one of the most complex subjects of leadership.
This is why “team” can be so hard to define. If you say too little, you may be in danger of not saying enough. If you try to be comprehensive in your definition, then you are in danger of missing a key element.
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Good team leaders are a rarity because of the difficulty involved with leading a team, which must be accomplished under increasingly stressful circumstances. Whether you are leading a team, or functioning as a team member, it is important to recognize that this is a big topic with great complexity. Building a healthy functional team is no easy task.
This just might justify being less critical of team leaders and more active as team members. The only way to overcome this complexity is to work together to achieve a common goal. That is the real starting point of defining and building strong teams.