Distinguishing Teams From Groups

A team can be defined as a group of people who work together toward a common set of goals. It is important to distinguish teams from groups. A group only implies a set of more than one person occupying the same space at the same moment in time. Teams are much, much more.

Looking around our world, we see many groups but not many teams. Nothing specific is required of a group. A group can disband and disperse at any time. It doesn’t have the cohesion that a team has. A team sticks, one person to the other, at all times. It does not disband and it does not disperse.

In many work situations, there are groups but not teams. People think because they have proximity to others that they are part of a team. They think because they are working on the same project that they are automatically a team. They are wrong.

Teams must be built. They must be arranged and they must have common goals. They must align to more than just physical arrangement. The members must be willing to support one another and not run when the going gets tough.

I recommend these three pieces of advice if building a team is in your future:

1.) Consider the players. Look carefully at the people who will be part of the team. Exclude anyone who desires to always do their own thing. Teams must be able to think together and talk together. Being always alone doesn’t accomplish the togetherness.

2.) Set defined missions. If a leader can set the mission and define it well, the team can follow the leader. People still retain may characteristics of animals and in the animal world, there are leaders and there are followers. Not everyone wants to be a leader, but many desire connection in their following. Get them connected through guidance.

3.) Cohesion. Cohesion is what sticks everyone together. Daily there will be opportunities for each person to separate from the team. Separation doesn’t have to be physical to be fatal to the team. It can be as small as losing faith in the mission. Keep those personal connections going and embrace one another within extreme challenge. Keep everyone challenging one another to find the best in each individual. Once individuals are cohesively arranged, the group is over and the team begins.

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