Wright Foundation | April 14, 2016

Teamwork Skills:
How Leaders Cultivate
Unselfish Teamwork

Whether you’re a team leader or a team player, you know full well nothing happens without teamwork.


CEOs, business psychologists, and career coaching professionals are constantly studying group dynamics and “group think,” attempting to understand what makes a group cohesive, which personality strengths and traits best ensure a group will click, and how they can apply these ideas to the workforce.

Whether we’re talking business teams or sports teams, what really holds teams together is unselfish teamwork.

We’ve all heard the old cliché, “There’s no ‘I’ in team”—but it’s true. When you walk into a room, you can either decide you want to succeed or you can decide you want the room to succeed. If you’re out for your own success and glory, then yeah, maybe you’ll get there. Maybe you’re gregarious, charming and fascinating enough to get people to like you.

However, while you might have the best ideas, if you’re only out for your own success you’ll eventually fall behind, never reaching your full potential.

In leadership, it’s about getting your team to share a vision. It’s about really engaging with each team member and understanding each other on a deeper level. It’s about taking the gloves off and getting into productive discussions—and yes, even engaging in conflict at work—to get to where you want to go.

I can’t tell you how many times in my own life I’ve been going along thinking I had all the right ideas about something, then someone engaged with me and opened my eyes to something completely different. I like to think I’m a pretty smart guy, but I’m only as smart as the room I’m in and those I’m around. I’m only as good as the team I’m playing for.

Lead From Wherever You Are with Visioning

Every single employee at your organization has a vision for your company, from the CEO to the janitor. When we go to work, we all have an idea of how we want our day to go. We have hopes and yearnings about what we want. We envision our boss praising our work. We picture ourselves scoring the winning goal, upselling the top account, or sealing the deal with a new client.

While there are some who simply want to come in to work, do what they need to do and go home, most of us who are engaged, active and growth-focused in our lives and careers hope we can come in to work, do something great and enact positive change. We hope we can be the best we can be, every day.

Yet, what happens when we step back and realize we’re in a room where everyone wants to be the top seller, the best closer, or the boss’ favorite? Wouldn’t it be stronger for the company as a whole if we endeavored to be the best organization we could be?

Instead of asking how we can do our job more effectively, shouldn’t we be asking how we can enable and support the effectiveness of the entire team?

To elevate your team, organization, or group and cultivate real teamwork skills, you need to listen and share in on every member’s vision. Does that mean everyone will agree on an outcome, join hands and sing Kumbaya around the conference table? Of course not!

It simply means we can lead from any position by sharing and listening, then getting the team excited about a shared organizational vision. “A good team doesn’t just know the company vision; a good team shares in the visioning and each team member embraces it as their own.”

Boost Teamwork Skills by Bringing out Everyone’s Best

Not everyone can be the star quarterback, the homerun hitter, or even the head referee. We can’t all play the same role and the ball doesn’t always come our way. If we each only seek the desire for personal glory, we’ll be knocking down the other players and our team will falter.

The same idea applies to our teamwork skills at work. We’ve talked about the importance of treating every meeting as though you’re the host. You know what the best hosts do? They let others shine. They listen. They serve those around them, and help them bring out their best.

The quarterback doesn’t always get the glory or get to score the winning point, and neither does the meeting host. It’s more important to ensure everyone is winning and working toward shared company goals.

I’ve been around some great people in my life and one thing I’ve learned is to recognize the way truly great, charismatic, and strong leaders have a way of making those around them feel like they’re just as important and fascinating. They engage. They listen and they take note. They ask questions to gain a deeper understanding. They’re not thinking of how they can prove to you how smart and fantastic they are. Instead, you walk away feeling like YOU are smart and fantastic. They help bring out the best in everyone they meet.

To continue the conversation, unlock your leadership potential, and discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to join us for our next More Life Training.
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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.