In the past, both here and in my own newsletters (Diamonds to You) I’ve written about the fact that although there is no I in teams, there certainly is a ME. I want to continue with that theme. I am quoting myself from my November Newsletter.
Here in the United States, we have a long history – since our inception – of valuing and rewarding individuality and initiative. We pride ourselves on being “rugged individualists.”
In other parts of the world collectivism, rather than individualism is practiced. In some countries it takes the form of socialism or communism.
In others, like Japan for instance, team-work is stressed from the time a child enters school. Indeed, a wonderful book, which is about the education of Junior High School students is called Learning to Bow and the author (whose name I can’t remember at the moment – and since I loaned the book to someone who never returned it, can’t find his name) descries in detail some of the educational processes put into place to teach these teenagers how to work in teams.
In some countries they have sayings such as “Tall poppies get cut down” or “The Nail that Sticks Up Gets Hammered Down.” Personally, I don’t want that notion for us. I want those of us who are capable of supplying better ideas, more creativity, initiative, hard work, and the desire to succeed to be rewarded as individuals for their efforts.
In the contemporary business world, we work in combination of individual contributors and teams. If we reward only team work, we take away the initiative of the brightest, most energetic, and more creative members of the team. We, here in the United States need to keep the balance.
Use teams where effective, but remember, a team consists of a group of individuals, each of whom has his or her need to be compensated, acknowledge and rewarded.