Do ‘Great Things in Business’: Seven Brief Notes on Teamwork

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people”–Steve Jobs

Today’s entry follows-up a theme I touched on in my last post, “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” You might be thinking, “Sheesh, that line’s been quoted to death.” Maybe, but it bears repeating. Too often in life, people get so caught up in individual achievement, they forget that many of life’s accomplishments—maybe most or even all of them—wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of other people.

Ask yourself: Have you ever found yourself fixated on what you’ve achieved, overlooking the importance of teamwork or of other people in helping you reach your goals? Don’t fret. Doing so doesn’t make you a bad person or even an inconsiderate one (unless, perhaps, you do it habitually). Rather, it makes you human. We all have the capacity to get overly focused on the self. That’s one big reason why Jobs’ quote (and others like it) is worth considering.

It’s also worth mentioning the larger context of Jobs’ quote. Jobs was speaking here about how the rock band The Beatles served as his overall model for business. He notes how the band was comprised of four personalities that “balanced each other,” making the whole “greater than the sum of the parts.” (It’s also fascinating to note that The Beatles-owned Apple Corps Ltd., engaged Apple Computer in numerous legal battles over several decades regarding copyright and trademark infringement, and breach of contract).

Jobs, like so many other hyper-successful people, understood the importance of the concept of teamwork in comparison to the contributions of any single individual. Simply stated, individual achievement pales in comparison to what can be accomplished by a diverse group of personalities working in concert toward a common goal.

Below, are seven brief notes on teamwork in the workplace and why it’s vital to success. These demonstrate why Jobs’ view on teamwork is as relevant now as when he founded Apple.

1) An Increased Sense of Trust

When people work together as a team, with a clear vision, well-structured goals, effective delegation and strong leadership, something magical happens. If the manager or company owner has done a respectable job structuring the team, people will begin depending on each other to do their jobs. This can lead to a sense of trust and respect, from which are born professional connections and friendships.

Through trust, the members of the team will come not only to respect each other’s opinions, but also to welcome input, review, and constructive criticism from other team members. This can help reduce errors, enabling the team to “get it right the first time.”

2) Increased Cohesion

When working as part of an effective team, people will stop thinking of themselves only as an employee of Company X. They’ll also start seeing themselves as a member of their team. This can lead to a greater sense of connection with the company itself and a greater sense of belonging—especially at larger companies.

3) Create A Formidable, Collective Talent

As with diversity of thought and background, diversity of talent is an important component to an effective team. Each team member adds specific strengths and weaknesses to the team.

On the best teams, these strengths and weaknesses correspond to and supplement one another. For example, one team member might be terrific at giving presentations, but not so great at writing and compiling them. Not to worry—if the team functions effectively, there should be another member who’s exceptionally good at creating a presentation. Or maybe there are various team members who are good at the specific parts of creating a presentation.

The important consideration is that all those talents mesh together to create a single, collective talent with fewer overall weaknesses. This provides the team with a far-greater capacity for a range of work and task types than any individual.

4) Increased Efficiency

If everyone on the team is working to his or her strengths, and the workload is effectively delegated, the team will accomplish far more as a unit. If team members have built trust in one another, they will also come to welcome—even to depend on—the review and/or revision of their work from other team members. This leads to overall increased efficiency within the team.

5) Increased Idea Generation

Strong teams are typically comprised of members from a diversity of backgrounds. This translates into a multiplicity of perspectives and thinking styles, too. Team member ‘A’ might not be able to generate a solution to problem ‘Z’ because it’s beyond his/her range of experiences. However, to team member ‘B,’ the answer might be self-evident because he/she has encountered similar problems numerous times. This increased pool of ideas is, in part, also made possible by the diversity of talent mentioned earlier.

6) Increased Risk Taking

On the surface, this might not sound like a positive. However, spreading the workload decreases the pressure on any single team member. This can, in turn, lead to team members feeling more confident about approaching a problem from unique angles (i.e., “thinking outside the box”). If the team engenders the sense of trust I mentioned earlier, team members will also feel more comfortable accepting feedback regarding a risky idea from other team members.

7) More Efficient Conflict Resolution

Another of the many benefits of teamwork is the ability of effective teams to resolve conflicts internally. This can help prevent problems—large and small—from requiring intervention from outside the team. As the team builds a sense of trust and cohesion, the ability of the team to manage its own conflicts increases. Better yet, each time the team manages conflict in a healthy, effective way, the sense of trust and cohesion increases.

Conclusion

I can’t end without noting that, in a sense, there is indeed (or there should be) an ‘I’—many of them, in fact—in ‘team.’ Without the individual parts of the whole and the diversity of perspective and thought that’s part of an effective team, every team would be a homogenous unit of “yes” people. However, the spirit of the axiom, “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” is quite sound. When a diverse group of ‘I’s come together and begin thinking and acting as a single whole, they create a formidable ‘we.’ This is what it means to be a team.

As Steve Jobs understood, the importance of teamwork in the workplace can’t be understated. People working in a team environment trust each other more, are more efficient, feel more comfortable thinking outside the box and generate more high-quality work more quickly.

As the founder and CEO of Rainman Creative, I’ve been careful about fostering and building the type of team mentioned here. Our success has been predicated on trust, cohesion and collective creativity. At Rainman Creative, we strive to take Steve Jobs’ advice to heart.

We’d be thrilled to put our collective talents to work for you. From brand identities, to branding, to creative copy, we can help you find the voice and identity of your brand. We can help you achieve all your creative goals for social media, web design and digital brand management. For a free consultation, contact my team at Rainman Creative today.