Beyond the Build

Team Building

What Teamwork Really Means

It seems like the word “team,” as in, “our team,” or any other way it might be used can be the corporate soup du jour.

Sometime ago, I took a group of Scouts on a 2-week hiking trek to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. My tent partner and I would set up our tent every evening. The first two or three nights, it seemed like we talked a lot to ensure we knew our roles to get the tent erected properly. After about the fourth night, we quit talking because we both knew what the left hand and the right hand were doing. We erected the tent in half the time, seamlessly.

To me, teamwork is not something that just gets glued together as conversation. Maybe real team members are shaped around these actions:

Surrender their borders to each other.

Work together unconditionally, expecting to do more than their fair share.

Have their eyes on mutual goals.

Share the praise and take the hits when they make mistakes. (This is easier said than done.)

Huddle together in the face of adversity rather than scatter.

The bonds strengthen with trust and time. When it all comes together, the result is a lot more than a cliché.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.