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Myth #2: With teamwork, anything is possible

December 4, 2013

By Charley Morrow

In the first post in this series on the myths of teams, we debunked the notion that teams have common goals. Today, we’re exploring another common myth: Any goal can be achieved as long as you have teamwork.

Teamwork is not an inspirational poster.

You know the ones I’m talking about. Like the one showing a boatful of rowers working together, with the word “TEAMWORK” written in large letters across the bottom. The implied message is that as long as you are working as a team, you only need to row harder to win. It looks good on the wall and sounds great, but the problem is that this message is inaccurate.

Don’t get me wrong, teamwork is incredibly important.

But teamwork alone simply isn’t enough—it has to be accompanied by the right knowledge to get the job done. In other words, the capabilities of the individuals on the team matter. Rowing harder as a team without knowledge may get you moving faster, but if there is a stronger and more skilled team, they will beat you. You can’t win if you do not have the talent you need. If you are in a leaky rowboat competing against a high-tech rowing shell, you will lose.

Resources matter, too.

Overcoming a lack of appropriate skills and resources is an issue of influence. If the goal is unrealistic or if the team doesn’t have the requisite skills, it is the team leader’s responsibility to manage the organization’s expectations accordingly.

So, what’s a team leader to do?

Leverage your influence within the organization to ensure that your team’s skills are aligned to strategic objectives. If the skills aren’t available, then you’ll need to re-align the goals and expectations. Once that piece is in place, you can focus on developing the teamwork needed to leverage the skills for maximum success.

In our next post, we’ll tackle the common misconception that high-performing teams are conflict-free. To help get beyond myths and think clearly about your team, take our Team Effectiveness Quiz.

Do you lead a team without the right skills? Have you tried “rowing harder” to compensate? Share your story with us in the comments below.

Morrow_Charley_2Charley Morrow is Vice President of Assessments at Linkage. He has over 20 years of experience designing, implementing, and evaluating training, individual assessment, and organizational-transformation interventions. He’s also an expert in developing assessments and methodologies for individual, team, and organizational motivation and performance. Follow him on Twitter @CharleyMorrow.

 

 

 

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