Cornerstones of Teamwork

If designing teamwork were a pyramid, the foundation would consist of 4 essential qualities.

We often hear coaches and leaders say, “We must work as a team.” We all think we know what teamwork means, and we can recognize it when we see a team win, but what’s really the definition?

Teamwork is a group of people mutually dependent on one another to achieve a common goal. Winning has nothing to do with it. Teamwork comes first, and winning becomes a by-product of it. Getting everyone to understand that you will win is the cornerstone of teamwork. Without the plan to win, without the structure to win, team building falls apart. 

If designing teamwork were a pyramid, the foundation would consist of 4 essential qualities that must work independently, yet are still dependent on one another for support. Here they are:

  1. A clear, concise understanding of how the team will prosper. We cannot have teamwork without a plan towards high-level performance. All players/staff must know they will win. “Buying in” is a must for teamwork, and the “buy-in begins with a consistent, detailed plan towards winning. Ever wonder why some high achieving talented people will sacrifice their individuality for the good of the team? Because they have “bought-in.” 

  2. A specific role, defined, explained, and reviewed continually. The player/staff can never be in the dark. The leader must over-communicate the roles each play and how each performance will be graded. 

  3. There must be open communication with clear messaging. There has to be back and forth between leaders and staff. There cannot be moments of silence or passive-aggressive messaging. Leaders lead with their actions and words, which then allow the staff to feel comfortable to share their thoughts. Creating a safe zone of communication is vital in team building. 

  4. Timely, effective decision making. Two keywords here, timely and effective.  Decisions must be made in a timely fashion, so others are not left wondering what will occur. Time wasted wondering is time spent away from team building.  When leaders make decisions for the good of the team, for all the reasons that involve winning, then team building thrives. 

Spend time refining these four critical components of team building each day. In our daily planners, let’s make sure we give each of these four action steps the time they need and deserve. Don’t ever assume these four come naturally. Much like any foundation, they must be maintained and reinforced each day. 

A united team that understands teamwork is hard to beat. 

P.S. If you are in search of a book recommendation, our team at The Daily Coach highly recommends The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. This book studied more than 850,000 employee engagement surveys to develop their “Five Disciplines of Team Leaders,” explaining how to recognize and motivate different generations to enhance individual engagement; ways to promote healthy discord and spark innovation; and techniques to unify customer focus and build bridges across functions, cultures, and distance. 

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