People working together as a team are usually considered to be more productive than people working independently or as a group. But this can be debated because a group of people working on a project can also be highly productive without being considered a team.
In my workshops on leadership and team development I do an activity where I ask the participants the difference between a group and a team. The most common answer is that a team has a common goal and the group may not.
However, many groups of people working together do have a common goal but they may not be considered a team. Consider various groups working constructing a building for example.
Group vs. Team
What a team has that group of people do not is something called Team Spirit. This is something that is developed over time and doesn’t just happen by accident. It begins with an understanding of what comprises team spirit. It’s a decision leaders makes to create an environment that drives and supports teamwork.
When discussing teamwork with business owners, they often tell me they have good teamwork in their company. They perceive that people seem to get along well and like each other. While this is an important factor, true teamwork goes beyond people just getting along.
Real teams work on constantly improving what they do and how they do it. As they grow in autonomy they take on more important decision-making without having to always rely on management to tell them what to do.
This type of functioning for teams is becoming essential in today’s fast-paced changing global economy driven greatly by innovation and technology. Companies must be agile to be able to adapt to competition and not fall behind and become outdated quickly. But to be agile organizations must develop people and teams to be flexible and embrace change and improvement.
If people and teams are to participate in discussions on continuous improvement, problem-solving and creative solutions, they must be able to reconcile their differences for the good of the team and their mission. And of course, there are always differences in opinion. This is where team spirit plays a vital role in facilitating communication towards building consensus on decisions.
Team spirit is derived through understanding and accepting others. It comes from knowing that different perspectives when well-intentioned are essential for better problem-solving and decision-making. Team spirit is driven by the desire and willingness to help each other grow and contribute to the team.
Therefore in our training programs on leadership and team development we include the types of people approach developed by Fritz Glaus. Learning about types enables team members to know each other and understand what drives specific behaviors and styles of communication.
Building a culture that supports teamwork is a leadership decision that requires thought, understanding and action.