Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Value of Teamwork

Pundits, gurus, consultants and inspirational speakers all write and speak about the value of teamwork. "Are you a team player?" is one question I've gotten asked in countless job interviews. After awhile, it just seems like a trite idea that everyone loves to spout.

But in the past few weeks, the value of real teamwork has been driven home to me four times.

1. When I played paddle tennis over the weekend, my partner and I enjoyed the connection of real teamwork. We backed each other up, rather than poaching on each other. We used our different skills to cover the court to return our opponents balls no matter how they were hit to us. It enabled us to win our first set.

2. When our strategic planning group for Aging in Place in Darien met to hash out the core of our business plan, we had a full spectrum of perspectives as to the direction we ought to take. We did agree on mission, and with that as our guide, we each were able to list our goals, listen to each other and seriously consider what others had to say. I found the process really powerful because it forced us to think outside our own mindsets. In the end, we were able to form a consensus. And I daresay, our conclusions were much stronger than if just one of us had developed our goals in a vacuum.

3. When I prepared a dinner for a working women's group at our church, I did it with two good friends. By splitting up the food preparation, set up and clean up, we were able to serve a great meal and enjoy the fellowship of our gathering without a lot of stress and strain. Together we were more like Mary than Martha.

4. My husband and I faced the unpleasant and somewhat daunting task of cleaning up a mess left by a contractor. The contractor in question said he'd come back but hadn't yet shown up. So my husband and I researched cleanup methods on the internet, and then he started the job. When he got tired, he showed me what to do, and I took over. Before long, we had our problem licked. My husband said our tag-team approach had worked well. I agree.

If you're running or starting a business, playing a game, running a family or volunteering, think a bit about how you can help the others on your team -- and how they can help you. More than one brain and set of eyes and ears can add tremendous value to the end result.

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