Ok, so the title is also a lie… There isn’t really a letter ‘i’ in the word ‘team’. But if you ignore that simple fact, my point remains — “There’s No I In Team” is a lie.

A team may not have an ‘i’ but it does have a ‘t’, an ‘e’, an ‘a’ and an ‘m’. They’re all different letters, with different personalities, goals, and contexts. If you remove the individuality from each letter you won’t get the word team.

I’ve already had the opportunity to explain my views on what “stuff” makes a good Team Leader / Manager. If you take a close look, all of the points in it are related to people and the fact that a team is a living organism, always evolving and adapting. You build your team with people that won’t stay the same forever. Change is unavoidable.

You’ll have people that are on their first job, and they are eager to learn everything that you throw at them. They might use their own time to increase their capabilities and knowledge. You’ll have people that are already married or not, with children or not. You’ll have people that in two years may want to have their own company… We don’t have time to go through all the possible combinations that make up a person at a specific moment in time, but I think you get the gist of it.

Any team is composed of different people with different individual goals at any specific point in time. And that’s OK! If you ignore this fact you’re going to have a really hard road ahead of you. You have to understand that this is normal and you’ve got to build upon it.

What makes a team is not removing the individuality of every member, but rather aligning people’s individual goals with the goals of the team. That’s how you make your team move forward; that’s how you make people continue to grow.

Conclusion

So what I would argue is that while your focus can, and probably should, be on having a team, and people working as a team with its goals in mind, you can never neglect the individuality in it. Everyone has their own ambitions, their own goals and walk their own path. That is the reality you must never ignore.

And the goal in all of this is simple, you have to align the personal path with the team path in a way that makes sense. This will rarely ever be a single straight line, there will be some bumps along the way, and that’s ok.