Why there should be an “i” in team.

In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different — Coco Chanel

The irony behind the belief that there can be no “I” in team, is that nearly all advances and innovations are envisioned and created by the very “I’s” we tend to alienate and surpress for the sake of maintaining the harmony of the team. But is that enough to justify anti-team warfare?

As a former Cirque du Soleil performer I fully understand and respect the value of team and working together to achieve a common goal. However! I also learned that individuality is a necessary catalyst for growth, competition and innovation.

The “I”ndividuals who see more, can do more than their “supporting” cast should be celebrated and embraced because they iniciate relevant change by challenging and going against the grain, ruffling feathers and disrupting the comfortable creative status quo of society and corporate America. The reality is that without them we still might be in the stone-age.

Companies can truly benefit by not only allowing individuality, but encouraging it. Companies strive to be unique within their market, separating themselves from their competitors and rivals. So why not let the differentiation factor trickel through from within your culture?

WHY DO WE FEAR INDIVIDUALITY?

We fear it because it makes for an uncomfortable challange to management and leadership. The key is to build teams made up of diverse individuals with varied skills and capabilities who each bring something of great worth to the table. Then adding to that element, communicate clearly what their roles are and what your expectations of them are.

OPTIMIZING TEAM WORK

Teams ultimately work best not because everybody is the same, but because everybody understands their respective role and has a common purpose in mind regardless of who actually lifts the trophy. They should not only embrace their differences but stimulate and invite the differences to shine.

Some of the world’s greatest sports teams, had an “I” that when properly managed, maintained their star “I” status, but simply became the chore and heartbeat of a team they lead and inspired to victory. Phil Jackson, (arguably one of the best man-managers around) gave Michael Jordan (Koby Bryant/Shaq) the freedom to unleash their individual genius, complimented by a Dennis Rodman, who Jackson allowed to be Dennis Rodman — resulting in sports dynasty. He didn’t fear the individuality. I’m not sure anybody should.

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THANK YOU.

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