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Jul 31, 2007

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Teamwork - A Competitive Advantage

Teamwork - A Competitive Advantage

To value the importance of teamwork, we have to appreciate
the value of every individual. Many managers think that they
are good team players. When they get into action, they begin
to “take charge” of the whole process and dictate their beliefs.
They are deaf to other people's inputs and suggestions.
Sometimes, they may ask for ideas from the members and
appear receptive. At the back of their minds, they have already
decided that their own ideas are supreme and all other ideas
must necessarily be inferior. Such managers are usually guilty
of casting blame on the team when things go wrong, and
accepting personal credit when things go right.


The Bundle of Sticks

Teamwork - A Competitive Advantage

A certain Father had a family of Sons, who were forever
quarreling among themselves. No words he could say did the
least good, so he cast about in his mind for some very striking
example that should make them see that discord would lead them
to misfortune.

One day when the quarreling had been much more violent than
usual and each of the Sons was moping in a surly manner, he
asked one of them to bring him a bundle of sticks. Then handing
the bundle to each of his Sons in turn he told them to try to
break it. But although each one tried his best, none was able to
do so.

The Father then untied the bundle and gave the sticks to his
Sons to break one by one. This they did very easily.

“My Sons,” said the Father, “do you not see how certain it is that
if you agree with each other and help each other, it will be
impossible for your enemies to injure you? But if you are
divided among yourselves, you will be no stronger than a
single stick in that bundle.”


In Unity is Strength.
Disunited families are easily injured by others.
United we stand, Divided we fall.

Quotable Quotes:

“A team of dragons doesn't need a head.” ... Stan Shih

“High-performing companies increasingly believe that
teams, rather than business units or individuals, are the
basic building blocks of a successful organization.”
... Anthony Jay

“A good team is a great place to be, exciting, stimulating,
supportive, successful. A bad team is horrible, a sort of
human prison.” ... Charles Handy

“A team is not a bunch of people with job titles, but a
congregation of individuals, each of whom has a role that
is understood by other members.” ... Meredith Belbin

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins
championships.” ... Michael Jordan

“Teamwork is a constant balancing act between self-
interest and group interest.” ... Susan Campbell

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

For a change, we shall rehash 2 very popular and oft-heard
examples of teambuilding and teamwork. Other than the above
Father and Sons fable, the one that is much talked about at
most corporate training workshops are the lessons we can
draw from the “Flight formation of Geese”.

In Canada, the geese fly in a V-shaped formation with one side
of the 'V' longer than the other. There are scientific and
practical explanations for this and trainers use this nature's
wonder to illustrate the need for synergy in effective teams.

Teamwork - A Competitive Advantage

During the flight, each bird's wings create an uplift for the bird
behind it. This enables the entire wedge of geese to fly 71% further
than a bird flying alone. By tapping on the collective strength of
individuals with a common goal and direction, organizations
stand to benefit.

When a goose starts to leave the formation, it can feel a drag and
resistance of a solo flight and will quickly get back into the 'V'
formation. The lift and thrust of the flapping birds in front
lighten the burden of the birds behind. In the same manner, top
executives should take good care of their middle-level managers,
who in turn look after the workers on the ground. We can be
special and choose to fall out of the line, but it will make our
journey to success a much tougher path to travel as we do not
enjoy the support of the people above us.

Just like our leaders, the leading goose may feel the strain and
pressure in taking charge. When it drops to the back, another
goose immediately takes over the helm. In perfect teams, the
mindset should not be one of “your job” or “my job” but “our
jobs.” The responsibility is shared and each team member
should be prepared to cover each other's portfolio when the
need arises.

Geese do not travel in silence and we hear their honking in flight.
Maybe it is their merry singing, but it could very well be their
way of encouragement to those in front to keep pace. We don't
have to go to the extreme of a cheerleading team. However,
words of praise, encouragement and support go a long way in
raising the morale of our team members.

Can geese fall sick? Yes, they can and when that happens, at
least two other geese will follow a sick bird to the ground.
They will protect the bird and when it is well again, they travel
together to join the rest of the flock. Do not forsake our team
members who need our help especially during difficult times.

A good team is not formed overnight. Putting a bunch of your
best workers together and making them play some teambuilding
games at a corporate retreat will not get you an effective team.
There must be some form of magnetism that pulls them together -
a synergy. Disputes and arguments are common even between
husband and wife (or should I say especially between husband
and wife) and there is no reason to expect none of that in the
teams. Personalities aside, the solution towards harmony is
often a process of realignment of duties and tasks. Pay particular
attention to the rewards and incentives. While certain category
of personnel may be valued for their expertise, the scheme of
rewards should generally be based on the team's performance
with lesser emphasis on the individual talents.

Let us end this article by asking you to reflect on your role in
teams. Are you the leading goose? The number two who is
always able to take over the number one? A noise maker and
morale booster? A ready helper? Does your team fly in a 'V'
formation in the first place? Are your team members united
like a bundle of sticks?

Related Articles:

Value every team member
Effective Delegation of Work

Books worth reading:

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable,
Patrick Lencioni uses a fable of a woman CEO who transformed
a dysfunctional executive committee into a successful team.
Learn to evaluate your own teams through the exercises and

For something fun and enjoyable, have your teams try out some
of the activities in Brian Cole Miller's book, Quick Teambuilding
Activities for Busy Managers: 50 Exercises That Get Results
in Just 15 Minutes. If that is not enough, he has more
exercises lined up for you in his latest book More Quick
Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers: 50 New
Exercises That Get Results in Just 15 Minutes.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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Sumpit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paintworkz Web Design said...

The best thing about this post is the way in which you have related your ideas with a great story with a high Moral, best way to keep people eager about your next post.
Great Work!!!

Business Free Zone said...

Two heads are better than one. Most of the time you will got into a group of people where you will meet narrow minded, selfish, and do not accept new ideas and suggestions for better output. Yes, they will listen but do not totally accept your ideas. Thank you for sharing. :)


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