“There is no I in teamwork.” You must have heard of this hogwash before.

The intention is to promote teamwork. Unfortunately, good intention is not enough. In an effort to promote teamwork, some team building facilitators forced the I to disappear.

There is I in teamwork. That I is personal accountability.

The next time you hold your team building workshop, observe how people construct their sentences when asked about the challenges in the organization. You will hear the following:
“We should communicate better.”
“Some of us do not care”.
“We do not know our goals”
“We do not know who is responsible for training us.”
“You should commit yourself to the team”.

Sentences that start with You, They, and We are safe and vague. Everyone is blamed but no one in particular.

There is I in teamwork. There is no teamwork without personal accountability. When every member of your team has a sense of personal accountability, you will hear them say:
“I was not clear. I will communicate better starting today.”
“I have not shown that I care. I will find ways to show that I really care.”
“I do not know our goals. I will seek your help to make it clear to me today.”
“I will find people who can train me. I will educate myself.”
“I will commit myself to the team starting today.”
In Positive Team Building, encourage teams to talk using the first person point of view.

Instead of saying, “The problem in this team is that we do not communicate. If you are a member of a team you should become open and honest with fellow team members.

I encouraged them to say, ”I think that the problem is that I am not able to communicate well with you. As a member of the team, I have to be open and honest with you.”

Positive team building encourages you to add value to the life of others.

During debrief sessions, participants tend to give motherhood statements which are safer because no one in particular is held accountable. It is said that change begins with the individual, but we keep on listening to people that there is no I in team. Wrong.

The best teams help individuals achieve their individual goals while achieving team goals. To highlight the importance of the role of each individual, we must recognize the I in teams.

Jef Menguin

P.S. You can come up with team building programs which support your business objectives. Competency-based programs are powerful and many managers fail to experience them. Get more team building ideas at Build Great Teams.

My name is Jef Menguin. I am professional team building facilitator in the Philippines. I also help organizations implement leadership development programs, improve customer experiences, and solve problems through design thinking.

I have conducted leadership training programs in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, and the Philippines.

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