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The Me in Team

Bringing Your Best ‘Me’ to the ‘We’

I often hear the statement, “There is no I in team.” I get the concept. Teams are not about individual accomplishments, but rather about collective goals and team success. However, I think there is something important about realizing that it isn’t really either all about me or all about we, the team. Indeed, there may not be an ‘I’ in team, but there does need to be a ‘me’.

A team is a group of individual players, each with their own values, hopes and dreams. If there is someone on a team who is totally focused on their own agenda and never gives an inch from their position, the team will fail or at least never be any better than that one person’s contribution. In contrast, if someone on a team is always sacrificing themselves, never taking into account their own needs, that, too, will not work. That person will either burnout, quit, or worse, become resentful, slowly undermining the team’s performance. You don’t want a team of just egos, but you also don’t want a team of just givers. You want strong individuals who are also strong team players. You want the me in the we.

Relationship Math

Relationship math is quite straight forward

:1 x 1 = 1 or 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 = 1

If anyone on a team is less than their full self, the result will reflect this:

1 x 0.5 x 1 = 0.5

When someone withholds something or doesn’t fully commit, the result is something less than ONE. I know coaches and leaders will often ask for a110% commitment, but really, all a person has to give is their best—100%, the full me. The only path to becoming ONE team is having everyone on that team fully in, 100%. To make that type of commitment means: I must take care of me.

Take Care of Me

I have to mange my own energy. If I need a break, I’d better take one so that I can come back and get my work done. I need to take responsibility for how I show up and deal with differences. If I disagree with someone, I need to say so. I don’t have to get my way, but I do need to speak up and show up fully. If I fall down on one of my commitments, I must take ownership of that mistake and find a path through. We are only human. I have to bring ‘me’ to the ‘we’. Otherwise, the math just doesn’t make sense.

Tension in the Me/We Equation

There is always tension in the me/we equation. It isn’t easy to be me in the face of we. But this tension is what makes for innovation, creativity, and in the long run—success for a team. It really is okay to bring your ego to the team. I know people talk about being selfless and humble, and I am all for that. However, we all have an ego and it is much better to own and deal with that reality than to imagine it isn’t the case.

Who doesn’t want to be the best? Most successful business executives are competitive and will be the first to admit they have a pretty big ego. They have been paid well for their individual success or smarts. I want people on my team that are strong players and deeply care about giving their best performance. Sure, when egos and competition are involved, life can be challenging. If everyone steps up and brings their full self, ego and all, to the game, amazing things can happen. Strong individuals, rallying around a collective goal, will produce amazing innovation, creativity and firepower.

Focus on Both the Collective & Individual

Great leaders and teams focus on both the collective and the individual. This means they make an investment in developing a cohesive, aligned team. An investment is made in each individual, each me, for development and growth. Yes, it’s tricky, and things go sideways. However, the solution is never to give up one for the other. That just won’t work in the long run.

It’s like a marriage or a partnership. If one person is always giving in, it won’t work. Marriages, partnerships and teams involve giving and taking. It can be messy at times. Egos are involved, and people do take things personally. It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly and the beautiful in us all that results in passion, commitment, creativity and aliveness. Without all of that, there is no magic or BIG Win!

So remember, there may not be an ‘I’ in team but there is a me. So be a real team player. Bring all of you to the table and learn the powerful potential that lies in bringing your best ‘Me’ to the ‘We’.

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.

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