When people suspend their self-interest for the requirements of the team, their demeanour is fundamentally co-operative. If co-operation between team members is the hallmark of effective teams then competition between members is its nemesis.
When people are competing, they are operating win/lose engagements with other team members which will eventually turn the ambiance of the team into a conflict-ridden, hostile one. The outcome of this is that very quickly winning as a team member is pursued 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 other with the intent to put the other down, to negate the significance of the other.
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. It is rather than they have made their own significance irrelevant. Rather, 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 is able to listen is able to suspend their own agenda in order to give attention to the agenda of the other.
Learn more about collaborative teams in our Team Excellence section.