Why is team building and teamwork worth focusing on and dedicating time to? Here is why team building and teamwork is an important part of high-performance training, team building, and leadership:
- You will never know it all or be excellent at everything
- You are part of an ecosystem that will help you succeed
- You need diversity of talent and critical feedback from different angles
- You need teammates whose skills complement your own
Let’s put a finer point on these tenets of team building and teamwork, and examine seven specific benefits:
Gain New Perspectives
Your perspective is valid and it matters, but it is limited by your own experience. The biggest obstacle to personal and team success is the ego. It can lull us into thinking we are better than we are, it can block us from accepting better ideas, and it can turn away the very people who could help us succeed. We humans love to think we know it all. We can be bold in our thinking, yet backward in our approach to following up on an idea. Pick up a newspaper or read the front page of a news website and you’ll find examples of people failing spectacularly because they didn’t ask for advice from someone who had journeyed down a path similar to theirs.
Play to Your Strengths
No one person can do it all—we each have different knowledge, strengths, skills, and abilities that make up an ecosystem that can help you succeed. In building a team, a team leader’s first order of business is understanding his or her strengths and weaknesses. The better a leader knows herself, the more readily she can surround herself with people who possess complementary strengths and perspectives. Sometimes, however, our own strengths and weaknesses and those of our team members are not obvious to us. That’s why relying on others to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses can be helpful. I call this triangulating, after the technique of land navigation that we learned during SEAL training (it’s also taught in wilderness survival classes).
Share the Workload
Knowledge of team members’ strengths facilitates delegating tasks and sharing the workload in ways that ensure maximum efficiency and a high-quality output. Many folks feel overwhelmed when they receive increased leadership responsibility, and that usually comes from thinking they have to do all the work themselves. Great leaders seek opportunities to delegate—not abdicate—tasks; and they do so with an eye toward helping teammates improve themselves. They ask the question, “Who will benefit (i.e., learn) most from this task?” The common misperception is that once a task is delegated, it’s off your “plate.” In actual practice, it’s your role to provide direction and assistance to ensure that tasks are completed and resources are coordinated for maximum efficiency and quality outcomes.
Team building and teamwork boost productivity in environments that are built on trust, support, and respect among the group—where the team’s culture is based around cooperation and collaboration. Successful team building, teamwork, and leadership training programs share many of these elements that are related to productivity: improving communication, promoting problem solving, enhancing decision making, encouraging adaptability, building trust, and nurturing cooperation. Team building exercises, done poorly and without an understanding of the WHY, are simply perfunctory development programs dreamed up by the resident human resource manager to check the box on the annual performance review.
As you solve each problem that surfaces in your business or personal life, take the time to ask, “Is there a better way to do this?” Great teams and leaders are constantly innovating, improving their systems, and inventing new ways to do things better. How do you think these organizations can get everyone to participate in innovation and maximize a company’s human potential—tapping into the intelligence, skills, and passion of everyone in the organization? They do it by building relationships with their employees in which trust, direction, respect, and empowerment aren’t optional but mandatory. Empowerment isn’t reserved for just making decisions—the dizzying pace of innovation has caused organizations to rethink how to embrace change and innovate faster.
When it comes to building trust and providing support, leaders must be able to connect with people—all kinds of people—and empathy is one of the most powerful ways to do it, whether it’s one-to-one or one-to-many. The key to empathy is the ability to listen and stay present in the moment. When you support and engage with someone, you connect with them—you form a human connection that can empower your team to do more than you originally thought possible. Engaging is about connecting emotionally, not just electronically. Do not mistake “connectivity” with “connection.” There is hidden potential in every company, and empowered employees perform better, display more interest and creativity, and help the company reach and engage others to build teams and develop future leaders. Boosting your team’s level of engagement is as important as ever as our workforce becomes more dispersed and works remotely.
Great people want to join an effort with a purpose—they need a reason to team up. If you don’t have a firm handle on your WHY, how can you expect other talented people to understand why they should team up with you? Your why is your calling card for finding the perfect teammates to help make a dream a reality. Understanding your why and the work you’ve accomplished toward your goal is similar to SEAL training. It’s proof of your resolve to complete the goal. No one wants to join a team that is going to fail. Everyone wants to be a winner. The ability to articulate your reason for going after your dream will help inspire others to join you. Finding the perfect teammates starts with a perfect understanding of your why.
CARE About the Benefits of Team Building and Teamwork
I CARE deeply about helping as many who are willing to build unstoppable teams to tackle the great challenges of the 21st century. From here on out, the challenges we face will only be conquered by unstoppable teams committed to caring for each other, for their communities, and for the greater tasks at hand. I’m an eternal optimist, for I have witnessed firsthand the collective power of the human race at its finest, and I know for certain there is no obstacle too great for an unstoppable team.
I’ve had the privilege to build and lead several different types of teams that I would call Unstoppable Teams. From building and leading three SEAL platoons to creating America’s fastest growing consumer products company (in 2009) to leading a 150 person charity group to chairing a $30MM bond campaign for our local school, all of these teams, though different in direction, are all the same in principle—they were CARE-based teams, and they all shared a similar element of “I’ve got your back.” These teams didn’t come from luck or good fortune, they were galvanized from purpose-driven actions (learned over years of making mistakes!) that built trust, direction, contribution, and ownership. SEALs and civilians operate in extremely different environments, but what makes both kinds of teams excel comes down to the same thing: service to others, trust, empathy, and a caring environment that fosters team building and teamwork.
Looking for More Team Building and Teamwork Resources?
In addition to Be Unstoppable and Unstoppable Teams, BE UNSTOPPABLE Products and BE UNSTOPPABLE Courses can help you on your path to success. It is my mission to help you acquire not just the tools you need to survive uncertain times and adversity, but also to develop the mindset and actions required to thrive and accomplish more than you originally thought possible. These lessons aren’t exclusive to the Navy SEALs; they are used by successful entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, coaches, and sport captains—and now you can master them too.