There’s an old saying among sports coaches: “A champion team will defeat a team of champions.” However, as much as we value the ideals of teamwork and connectedness, there’s also the alternative notion of the “rugged individual” who stands out from the crowd and succeeds without help from anyone. Research has to ask, what is better: one standout player or a cohesive team of average performers?
Positive psychology has always emphasized the personal benefits of social relationships and connectedness to others. Now we can say that connectedness makes good business sense, it has the potential to improve organizational performance at the highest levels.
Psychologist and business professor, Adam Grant, nicely summarized the above findings in his 2013 book by saying: “So once we get the right people on the bus, let’s make sure they spend some time driving together.”
The Value of Teamwork
From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s easy to understand why humans work well in teams, if our ancestors were unable to get along in a group, they would be unlikely to survive very long. This can be seen in species who share common ancestors with humans. For example, you won’t see an alpha male monkey walking alone without their followers. Once you are in a team, you get stronger. Teamwork ensures that members of society don’t just focus on themselves, but make sure entire groups of people function well.
Different from other strengths that could be cultivated by yourself, teamwork is all about others. Based on the findings of the character strengths in organizations, they found that individually-focused strengths like creativity are unlikely to occur with other-focused strengths like teamwork. When you work in a team, you’re shifting the focus from you to others.
What Is an Effective Team?
Working with other people doesn’t mean that you’re working as a team, real teamwork implies collaboration, communication, and acknowledgment of a common purpose.
Hence, an effective group is more than just a gathering of people. An effective team is a group of two or more people who interdependently seek to meet a common purpose, often through problem solving, in order to meet their own and their organization’s goals. At a minimum, a team should be a cooperative unit and, at its best, a team is a collaborative unit.”
Seven Core Components of the Psychology of Teamwork
What it takes to build an effective team includes:
1. Team Identity
A group with a strong team identity demonstrates belongingness, a desire to work together, and a sense of clarity around the role of each member. Groups with strong team identity also have high degrees of loyalty.
2.Motivation A high level of motivation corresponds with the energy and responsibility levels of the team, and whether competition is working for or against the team. Having a motivated team requires knowing and meeting desires, setting stretch goals, reinforcing success, and being persistent.
3. Emotional Awareness
A team’s emotional awareness encompasses the amount of attention the team pays to noticing, understanding, and respecting the feelings of team members. Emotional awareness is a critical factor in motivation, productivity, and a team’s ability to collaborate, making it central to the success of every team.
Intuitively, we know that communication is an essential factor for a group of people working together. It provides feedback and guidance on how well each of the team members listens, encourages participation, and discusses sensitive topics.
5. Stress Tolerance
A team with good stress tolerance knows how well it’s doing in managing the pressures of workload, time constraints, and the real need for work-life balance.
6. Conflict Resolution
Assessing a team’s conflict resolution means examining how a team processes disagreement and whether the team is able to deal with adversity as a way to enhance its functioning, rather than being caught up in the conflict. It’s essential for productivity and creativity.
7. Positive Mood
A Positive mood is a major factor in a team’s flexibility and resilience, and it’s the heart of a “can-do” attitude. It influences how energized the team’s attitude is.
However, the result of applying these skills is sustained productivity, emotional and social well-being for the team. Isn’t that what we all want?
In the words of Henry Ford:
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”