Today I was in Oklahoma City – conducting a training session for Jill and the team that she leads. It would be wrong of me to go into too much detail – after all, what’s said in class, stays in class. But suffice it to say that I thought it was a great day. Normally, as you know, I coach executives and teams, but today I had a chance to sit down with a group of people who took the first steps toward becoming a team – rather than a workgroup. And the difference is that while workgroups band together to produce a specific business outcome, a team, by choice, is comprised of people who invest their lives in one another beyond the purely business outcome. And that can be awesome to see.
One of the big problems in business today is that teams are undervalued. People are so concerned about surviving on their own that they spend most, or all, of their time worried about their own performance. And this can lead to a dysfunctional effort. The amount of information available to us as human beings is doubling every 18 months and that means that each of us must be experts in a specific area of competency and become more dependent on others to help us in areas that we may not be as knowledgable. For people who are slow to trust, or want to work in isolated areas, this can be disastrous to their long term success. Rather, we can become as experienced as possible in a certain specialty or silo of information and then band together with others who can complement our areas that aren’t so strong.
In fact, if you think about it, attorneys and accountants have been practicing this type of team oriented behavior for years. The laws of the land are getting so complex that no one accountant or attorney can possibly be an expert in all areas. That’s why firms continue to merge – to be able to pool their resources and depend on one another to produce better outcomes for everyone on the team.
So where did the original idea of combining resources come from? Well, I can make a good argument for Paul in the New Testament. And Paul followed in the steps of Jesus, who sent the disciples out in teams of two to spread the Good News of the kindgom of God. We are told in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in 12:12-13, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
So Paul confirms that the various parts of the body are fundamentally vital to the health of the entire body. And elsewhere in the Scripture, he tells us that no part of the body is more important than another part. So it is with our teams today. For maximum impact, all the parts of the body are necessary – no extra parts, and no parts missing. Practically, this means that some of us may be more outspoken, or more visible that others, but that doesn’t make any part more important. The quiet, or more modest, members of our teams are just as vital to our success – we are stronger together as a team than as individuals.
My encouragement this evening is to confirm that God wants us to work together – in peace and understanding. My prayer is that you will pray for God’s direction on how to be a great member of whatever team you belong to. Because watching people work together and accomplishing things they thought impossible is a thing of beauty, and in the will of our Father in heaven. So have a great day in the Lord – grace and peace…