There is No 'I' in TEAM - or is There?

Martin Haworth

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'Team’ and ‘I’. These two words are said not to fit together very well. Let's explore why and whether we can't get value from both. . .

By definition, a ‘team’ is a group of people working together to a common goal. And from this definition has come the well worn phrase, pitched on noticeboards of staff rooms in organisations all around the world:-

"There is no ‘I’ in team"

Partly based on the mnemonic:-

T ogether

E ach

A chieves

M ore

. . which values the togetherness of individuals, this well meaning adage is to emphasize that egos have no place in teams and that the generic direction of everyone is the same.

All true.

Focus on each helping each other out with no personal distractions is the perfect way to success for any team.

Yet there is another level - a more mature level that leaders and team managers must exploit fully to the benefit of the team, the individuals in it and the business or organisation as a whole.

Valuing the individual strengths, skills and experiences of every one of those in a team, can generate exceptional results.


Because a skilled leader can realise where best to focus key activities in their team.

Whilst it is vital to expand the capabilities of all the members of your team, it has no value to make someone struggle in an area of activity where they truly have little ability.

Using individuals precisely where they are strong in certain skills, will accelerate the performance of the team, though there is a need to be capable of managing this well.

Using key people strategically for their strengths and finding ways for them to develop others in their field of operation, will strengthen the sustainability of great performance.

That can mean that instead of fire-fighting and panic measures when someone leaves, you have strength in depth.

This values the individuals and uses the ‘I’ factor in a constructive and positive way.

There can indeed be value in accepting that there is an ‘I’ in TEAM!

© 2005-6 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, .

. . . helping you, to help your people, to help your business grow. . .


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