We are exposed to the concept of teamwork from a very early age, going back as early as kindergarten days. Hidden underneath its calm exterior lies a labyrinth of psychological assimilation, mitigation and much more. Suppose we look at various examples of teamwork-based activities. In that case, we are often conflicted about why some parties pass with flying colours and others seemingly fall victim to failure and obscurity.
What constitutes productive teamwork?
Over the years, many academics have debated whether teamwork involves collective minds and effort or simply aligning people to a shared goal. We will combine both views in this discussion and collude both points to come up with a comprehensive answer.
Productive teamwork can be seen as a subjective point, as productivity is not an established theorem. However, despite this, there is a common element here, notably the need for a team to have designated leadership to coordinate their efforts lest it all falls into chaos. If a team cannot coordinate, reciprocate and balance their workloads, they are setting themselves up for failure.
This person will be the project's central figurehead and is responsible for delegating tasks and making the final decisions based on what the team has finalised. Despite being in a position of authority, a leader should not be a complete authoritarian, or they will lose the respect and traction of their teammates. Leaders are often advised to have the mind of a leader but the heart of a follower, in that they must seek to build rapport with their teammates, not merely view them from an ivory tower barking orders. A leader will have to wear multiple hats when managing their team, but the process can be made more accessible with some help from the team.
This person will be elected as the second in command. If a leader cannot attend or deal with a specific matter, it will fall to the Vice Leader to make arbitrary decisions on behalf of the central leader. As a note of advice, the Vice Leader should be someone who can act as an intermediary leader psychologically, in that they should be approachable and able to work as a go-to person if there are any issues the team is having with the leader.
While this may seem more like an office setting, there is a lot of merit in having a secretary-like figure from the group to help coordinate with the leader on delegation matters, and help make the workload for all involved much more manageable. This role suits those with impressive organisation skills. The secretary will have the monumental task of recording and transcribing various decisions and sharing these findings with the team.
Everyone will jump at the opportunity to be praised in a group setting. Still, there are times when confident leaders sometimes take this trait to a dangerous extreme and try to micromanage the entire project and take all the credit. If a team faces such a leader, the wisest course of action would be to allow the person to amend their behaviour or exclude them from the project.
The polar opposite of a narcissist would be a backbencher, a person who takes great pleasure in just leeching off the efforts of others while they take a “back seat “role and observe everything before swooping in to take credit. Another way to describe these individuals would be as freeloaders. If a person is a freeloader, it can style the entire project's workflow.
It is important to note that these tips do not represent every project setting and are instead guides on tackling and mediating the common issues plaguing team projects. I hope these tips will be invaluable in resolving your project management woes.