We have all heard the expression “There is no I in Team”. This is an expression that is used to discourage dysfunctional behavior within teams and encourages better team dynamics. It primarily drives home the point that every team member is working toward a singular goal and therefore it is the unified team that achieves results rather than a particular individual a.k.a the “I”.
Although all the points above are completely valid, I have come to realize that there IS in fact an element of the “I” that is essential for every team to be successful. Without the “I” there could actually be confusion, inefficiency and a complete lack of harmony.
The importance of the “I”
Every individual possesses skills that they can consider “Strengths”. If these strengths are not acknowledged at an individual level, this could be a lost opportunity for the team as a whole.
A team that has a homogenous set of strengths may be less likely to be creative or innovative because of the similar mindsets. A team with more diverse skill sets on the other hand will challenge each other to think differently and ultimately open up the possibilities for innovation.
As a team member, start by acknowledging your biggest strength and understand how it can be an asset to the team as a whole.
Soccer, Basketball, Football are all examples of team sports that need specific roles. These positions are generally not interchangeable. A team cannot function at its best if those roles are not filled. It is important to find people with passion and clarity on how their part fits into the bigger picture.
When someone signs up to take on a role, it is on them to serve that function to the best of their ability. Unless that individual takes it upon themselves to do their job, there cannot be progress.
It is important to be aware of your role (and what you need to do it well) so that you can complement the rest of the team.
The definition of “Growth” differs from person to person. This is true for both personal and professional growth. As a team member it is important to understand and potentially express your parameters for “Growth” so that your actions support that goal and become a part of the team dynamic and culture.
For example, if a Developer is looking to move into an Architecture Role, there is an opportunity for both mentoring and learning. If this desired direction is shared with the team, there can be some training and knowledge sharing that can occur.
Be clear on what your desired next steps so that avenues can be created for their fulfillment.
Just as it is important to maintain your individuality in life, it is equally essential to acknowledge and define your sense of “self” in a professional environment. This holds true whether you are a part of a team or an individual contributor.
My response to the expression, “There is no 'I' in TEAM” in the famous words of Dwight.K.Schrute is “FALSE!”. :)
Without your sense of “I”, you cannot be fully present as a team member.