29th September 2016

The Joy of Teamship

What is that you say? There is no such word as ‘teamship’ and joy is a word rarely associated with anything to do with work or business. Well, you may be correct.

Teamship is a word I picked up from Sir Clive Woodward’s book ‘Winning’ and refers to all of those feelings and benefits associated with being part of a team. I often sense that too few of us are familiar enough with those benefits and feelings these days. Perhaps I am referring to a generation that has grown up in a time when competitive team sports were discouraged or in an environment where being part of a winning team in other areas was not deemed to be important.

Speaking personally, I am acutely aware that there are few feelings as satisfying, as inspiring, and yes, as joyous as being part of a great team. There is something deeply satisfying about being a part of a group of individuals who are no longer individuals because they are working together towards a common goal. Working together is fun. Working towards a common goal implies a sense of purpose.

Teams occur in all sorts of contexts, a family might be a team, a partner, business or life, might be a team, the people we play sports with might be a team, the people we socialise with might be a team, the people we work with might be a team; or they might not.

I often suggest to businesses that the decision whether to operate as a team or not is a philosophical choice. You don’t have to choose to operate as a team. Many do not. Yet whenever I ask the question the decision is almost always that ‘we want to be a team’. So perhaps it is not so much a philosophical choice as an unconscious choice.

So my question is this. Given the satisfaction that being part of a great team can bring, given the fun of working together successfully to a common end, given the fact that the team still represents the most effective unit of production that man can develop, why do teamship and the joy of teamship seem to be so rare?

I think it is probably down to two factors.

The first is that we are too often unaware, or forgetful of the benefits of teamship. Pat Lencioni once wrote, “If you could get all the people in the organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.” Do we know it is so powerful?

And the second is that we don’t know how to cultivate a spirit of teamship in our organisations so that our people can experience the joy it can bring.

What do you think?

Ian Kinnery, Business Coach 


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