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teamwork /noun/ work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole
If you look back at that definition above, there’s a key phrase that defines teamwork by itself. You could really get rid of the rest of it and I believe you’d have a personal definition of promoting teamwork.
“subordinating personal prominence”
To accomplish some bigger than yourself, you need other people. And when dealing with other people, inherently there is a need for some degree of collaboration among the group and a commitment to the goal. In business, an increase in these two factors equates to an increase in productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, while reducing costs.
Additionally, when individuals work with others they gain perspective and knowledge. Other people help us see the world in different ways. Think about when you are considering a big decision and you go ask your friends or family members for their advice. Unless you’re an askhole, you genuinely want a different set of eyes on the situation. Now think about when you need information on a specific topic. You mentally scroll through your contacts to find a person with experience in that. Some people even post generic requests on social media to crowdsource an answer. The value is in perspective and knowledge.
Teams expand our abilities, ideas, and experiences. Promoting teamwork, from the bottom or the top, is in everyone’s best interest.
This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, nor does it catalog the best books on the subject, but they are some of my favorites that I have read and currently use in my life.
- Ubuntu! | Bob Nelson & Stephen Lundin: This is one of those books that teaches lessons by telling a story of characters who learn them. It deals with helping others through a shared connection that invariably helps everyone, a philosophy called ubuntu. We are individually and collectively what make up ‘humanity’ and it is therefore in our best interest to invest in the wellness of others. It is credited by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu as their foundation for reconciling blacks and whites in South Africa with no retribution.
- The Ideal Team Player | Patrick Lencioni: Humble, hungry, and smart. These are the qualities that make a single person accountable to their job and their team. the author details what can be done in the reader’s organization to implement these virtues into their workforce. It covers developing and implementing a hiring process and culture, as well as how to develop employees who lack any of the qualities. And it makes a strong case for that last item, in lieu of firing people left and right. It’s less, “You don’t qualify to get on this train,” and more “Here’s how to get on this train!”
- Ego is the Enemy | Ryan Holiday: This book will take you down a notch. For those that analyze themselves a lot, you’ll probably get more of it. How this relates to teamwork is in shedding the subtle elements that pop-up between you and your teammates. If the first and second books on this list deal with how you view other people, then this book deals with how you view yourself. It’s the complementary piece that gets you out of your own way in contributing to a team. Pride, entitlement, giving credit, and defining goals are just some of the issues this book tackles in helping you be a better teammate to others (personally or professionally).
- Widgets | Rodd Wagner: Through 12 sections, Wagner details how leaders should view their employees. Employees often belong to smaller teams within the single organizational-level team. By better understanding how to treat people as people (even if you aren’t in a leadership position), you can promote the collaboration necessary to develop effective teams. This book, therefore, is for those who want to build their appreciation of teams through the individual. All of the concepts are summed up best in one line from the book: “Your people are not your greatest asset. They’re not yours, and they’re not assets.”
- The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace | Gary Chapman & Paul White: If you’ve read The 5 Love Languages, this is the same concept applied to business. The value in the concept is learning to identify the language of your teammates, and then speaking to it. This goes more in-depth with connecting to others, along with more stripping of your own ego from the equation. Another part of this book is overcoming the challenges that will inevitably arise when trying to connect through these different languages. We each have our own preferred languages of appreciation, so it follows that it’s difficult for us to adapt to others when we begin the process.
- Onward | Howard Schultz: I like to give a unique suggestion for each of these book lists to get people really thinking about the subject. Schultz recounts the rebuilding of Starbucks and all the different aspects of the business that needed revamping and reconsidering. What really speaks to teamwork in his book is the value he places on the people in his company (called “partners”). He details the different situations he encountered that required countless decisions. He gives the reader a strong sense of how he defines the idea of a team. When you boil it down, Schultz speaks to the importance of being loyal to your team and how strong leadership fosters teamwork.
In a world becoming more defined by reading headlines, it is becoming too time-consuming to read entire books. Slow down. Reading should be a critical part of your life. I won’t go into great detail about the benefits of reading, but in short, you expand your vocabulary, knowledge, and focus. This is one post in a series of book recommendations on improving different aspects of life.