That’s one of those sports cliches that gets bandied about not just on the court or the field, but in any situation where people work together toward a common goal. The point is that teamwork is not about personal glory. It’s about what’s best for the group. As a cliche, there is a certain amount of truth to the statement, despite what the celebrity hungry society does to make strong members of the team into “I” stars, forgetting the teammates helping things along.
However, when taken literally, the saying also eliminates an important component of any teamwork: the personal responsibility of the individual within that team. It’s all well and good to say a team works together, but that’s only half the process. The rest is individuals showing up, suiting up, and playing to the top of their potential. As one member of that team spends too much time concentrating on group dynamics and doesn’t, as one of my students said so profoundly, “take care of their business,” the team becomes unbalanced.
When Betty White was on Inside the Actors Studio, her advice to young actors was to be professional–show up on time, know your lines, be polite to all those who work with you, and do your job so other people can do theirs. Whether speaking of acting or corporate America, academia or basketball, this advice explains why the “I” in team is essential, as well as how to approach it.
What about you, Cakesters? How do you feel about teamwork?