50 Years of Teamwork

What is the most enjoyable part of your job? For me, I would say teamwork. In my more than 20 years at Sain, I have been on many teams, including work teams, external project teams, professional society boards, and charity event boards.

As I reflect on my participation with various groups, several questions come to mind:

  • What made me join that team?
  • What kept me on that team?
  • What worked well and what did not?
  • What did I enjoy the most and least?

Five elements of teamwork ring true no matter what team you are on:

  • The team needs a leader. The leader’s job is to establish the vision and actions. The leader must be engaged, organized, and gain consensus from the team.
  • Put the egos aside. As we learned as children, there is no I in TEAM! Your responsibility as a team member is to work with the team. If the team fails, it is the team, not the leader or one person. Supporting the leader does not make your role inferior.
  • Each team member needs a role. If you have been invited to be on a team and do not know your role, it is your responsibility to ask. Keep asking questions until you understand.  Remember, team members should have mutual gratification for being on the team. They should teach, coach, support, and learn for the greater good.
  • Every team member has a responsibility to communicate. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “the biggest problem with communication is the assumption that it has been accomplished.” If you say you are going to do something, do it. 
  • Create comradery. Every team is made of people with personal lives, challenges, limitations, and preferences. Understand your team members and all that comes with them. The feelings of “I am on your team, I care about you, I want to work well with you, and I have your back” go a long way. 

Great teams do not flourish overnight. Teamwork is comparable to marriage – there will be ups, downs, and constant challenges to overcome. There is no one-size-fits-all because we are all humans. Do not assume you can fit every team into a mold, as teams constantly evolve.


Take a minute to reflect on a current team you are on. Are you the best team member you can be? Would the leader invite you back next time?