This universal phrase traces back to John C. Maxwell, an American clergyman who published a book named after the expression in 2002. The original quote reads as follows:
Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.
When a group of people share a common dream or work together to reach a common goal, their desired results can be reached or surpassed through effective cooperation. Everyone's role may differ but, when delegated effectively, every contribution will matter.
Teams work most effectively when everyone's best attributes are amplified. Naturally, however, everyone's strengths and weaknesses differ, so teamwork helps to fill that gap. By embracing a supportive work environment, members are able to make meaningful contributions, simultaneously complete several different tasks and even gain interpersonal skills necessary for emotional intelligence.
For some projects, one person may need to wait on another to finish their task before they can begin theirs. In some teams, being divided into smaller groups before regrouping at the end works best. But when initiated intelligently, teamwork in any capacity can lead to better results, heightened communication and a smoother work cycle in a shorter amount of time.
Depending on the context for the team, some members will be responsible for leading the group or project (like a facilitator, host, manager, principal, director, etc.) and others will occupy more supportive roles (like associates, teachers, developers, actors, etc.). Operational and administrative roles are also important for helping a team function smoothly. Such roles can include a timekeeper, secretary or an assistant.
Responsibilities may rotate from member to member, too, depending on the project or timespan. Take, for example, a book club. Members may switch between moderating, supplying food and beverages, making recommendations, taking notes, sending emails, etc. — and no one person needs to stay in the same position for too long before being delegated to a different task.
With a system in place and clearly defined roles, groups can skip the administrative work of coming together and move onto the actual teamwork, saving everyone time and worry.
A compelling vision is at the center of every great team. Whether through an official business statement or a shared desire to reach a certain result, team members are motivated to do their best work when their reason for doing it at all is crystal clear.
You've heard the saying, "too many cooks spoil the broth" — but not if every cook has a clear responsibility. Members should add different contributions to the team, and the best way to do that is to delegate tasks across them. Clear responsibilities can lead to completed tasks in shorter times, less back-and-forth between members and a clearer lens in which to create and evaluate work.
The best teams are supportive, encouraging and maintain a positive culture amongst its members. This may not always come naturally, but positivity can be cultivated through opportunities to understand one another or norms that emphasize respect and recognition for every member. Something like a "one mic" policy, a rule in which one person talks at a time, is a good way to make great listeners out of every team member.
It's important to have efficient and effective processes across teams, especially for those that are remote or involve many members. Processes that can be clearly defined are how often the team will meet and when, the itinerary for every meeting, and expectations or guidelines for participating.
One benefit of working in a team is working toward the best results in the best way. Oftentimes, that means being respectfully honest about what aspects of the team are holding others back, revising approaches or completely chucking ideas that don't work. Therefore, in order for a team to work the most effectively, everyone needs to be open to constructive criticism — that is, sharing critique for the sake of driving the strategy forward.
In addition to the five mentioned above, other important elements can include:
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