Jul 22

What is a team, really?

We all know the word “team.”  We have heard it since we were young: be a team player, go team, there is no “I” in team, etc.  Reading through my notes from the Conference on Conscious Capitalism to continue sharing my remembrances and insights, the word “team” popped out quite a bit. It reminded me that it was only when I started consulting a few years ago that I learned the difference between a team and a committee. After decades in the corporate world and many years managing groups the following way to look at teams and committees would have been helpful.

When a team works toward a goal, the whole team achieves the same goal

– usually winning the game or other objective together.

A committee has no such unifying tenet. In many situations, with a good leader, all the members of a committee do strive together toward the same goal; but many committees are quite disparate in their objectives, even to the point of some members undermining the efforts of other members. As a team member and manager this definition would have helped me to solidify the efforts of the groups in which I worked.

But it’s never too late to learn, so with that definition in mind, here are the lessons on teams and teamwork from the conference.

  • Kip Tindell of The Container Store started his presentation talking about how leadership = communication, then moved into teams vs. tribes vs. committees, adding another level of distinction.  Tribes add some hierarchy to the team concept, but are usually more communal than a committee. Perhaps there is a place for a tribe when a true team is not possible.
  • Marianne Williamson, as usual, brought a POWERFUL summary over dinner the first day, then TOOK the message up a notch, well… more than a notch, a whole belt!  She talked about the ultimate team: Every being here on planet earth working toward the same goals of peace and growth.  She said (paraphrasing), “We are all mothers and fathers, our home is not just our house or community, it’s our planet.  AND every child in the world is our child. We are all responsible and valuable.” The ultimate team concept! (see my post about the previous time I experience Marianne’s sharing.)
  • Trish Karter of Dancing Deer Baking Company shared about the process many years ago when the company was going through a challenging time. The employees reached out to save the company because they believed in the mission and wanted the company where they enjoyed working to continue.  They dubbed themselves “The Love Team.” Today every employee is a shareholder and Dancing Deer is doing well despite a few more large challenges.
  • Faith Popcorn likened teams vs. committee’s to feminine vs. masculine energies, saying that women tend to be more inclusive, men more interested in hierarchy. (I agree, but think that using the terms feminine and masculine is creating unnecessary division–perhaps using the terms mindful or inclusive in place of feminine, and hierarchical in place of masculine?)

Really, I did try to avoid using this… but though quite trite, it is so very true:  TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More. I believe one of the best ways to work together is  by Opening Our Hearts, even just  a little. We all know how fast the energy of a situation can change and an Open Heart usually takes it in a more productive direction.

Think my next post will be on the success stories of teams vs. committees.  Do you have one  you would like to share?  We would like to hear from you! Thank you.

About the author

Lisa Hamaker

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