Leadership Trap #1: “Teams vs. Groups”

I often see managers and leaders falling into the trap of calling a group of people a “team,” thinking that they’re improving morale by inspiring people to think like a team. What this leads to is the following kinds of arguments: “We need to meet as a team! We need to talk as a team! We’re a team! We’ve got to make decisions as a team!” Yet when you look closely at what each individual in this group does, they each are responsible for separate functions. They have relatively few goals for which they are mutually dependent upon one another. Meeting “as a team” to decide things that are their own individual responsibilities will inevitably waste energy, sap morale and weaken performance. Yet people then blame the failings of the group on a “lack of teamwork.” This is a trap that only the senior leader or manager can identify — and then rectify.

Let’s be clear. It’s perfectly fine for a group of people to come together as a group to discuss success in mutually advancing organizational goals – It’s a great model and it’s how most organizations function. Reserve the concept of teams for true teams and make sure you’re not mixing messages. If you’d like to read more about how to distinguish teams and groups, I’ve written an entire article about this subject.


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