When people suspend their self-interest for the requirements of the team their demeanour is fundamentally cooperative. If cooperation between members is the hallmark of effective teams then competition between members is its nemesis.
Competition Within a Team Results in a Hostile Environment
When people are competing, they are operating win/loose engagements with other team members which will eventually turn the ambiance of the team into a conflict ridden and hostile one. The outcome of this is that very quickly, winning as a team member is pursued even at the expense of the overall success of the team.
The behaviour associated with competition between members of the team can best be described as ‘playing the man and not the ball’. The reason for this is that the competitive team member engages other team members in a series of win/lose engagements with the intent of winning. This intention means that the competitive team member wants to come first, and the other members therefore by definition must come second. This person engages the others with the intent to put the others down, to negate the significance of the others.
Constructive Team Members Grant Significance to the Others
By contrast, a constructive team member confirms the significance of other team members. This does not mean that they are obsequious. It does not imply that they are putting themselves down in order to affirm the other. Rather, they have made their own significance irrelevant. In every interaction with the other team members they grant significance to the other.
The single word that captures this skill of granting significance to the other is respect. This is associated with behaviours such as patience and listening. The reason for this is that a patient person who can listen, is able to suspend their own agenda in order to give attention to the agenda of the other.
Follow our blog next week as we continue to understand what makes teams successful.