There is no "I" in team – a pretty well-worn statement, but very true in practice. There are many teams that have assembled great talent, experience and skills only to fail in their objective because of a lack of teamwork.
Invariably this occurs where people put self before team – in fact, the more you read on teamwork (success and failure) the more you see that people are hard-wired to put self ahead of the team – even when the success of the team will ultimately deliver greater reward.
In the sporting sense this is often seen where a star player will take the shot rather than pass the ball or will ignore an instruction by the coach and do his or her own thing, the long-term outcome being a lack of success in terms of the results being strived for.
Bluntly, in my view, if you are part of a team and you have a selfish teammate you are doomed to failure or, at best, you will get significantly lower return on your efforts or you will need to work twice as hard.
But what happens if you are on your own – either solely running a business or being given sole responsibility for a project? In those cases it becomes about wit, intelligence and experience. However, invariably, you will likely find yourself involving and relying on others to assist you in reaching your objectives.
Last week I found myself in that position. Due to Mrs Bell needing to remain in Whanganui, I took annual leave to manage her business (Poppy Cards Limited) through the New Zealand Spring Gift Fair in Auckland. As I set off on the previous Friday I have to say that the days ahead appeared to be a bit daunting – it was a good thing that our band (Vinyl) is preparing a new set of songs because the six-hour drive north had me singing the entire new set rather than contemplate what lay ahead.
The next few days included setting up the stand which I was ably helped to do by Katy (our business partner) and her partner John and then three days of being on the stand - hopefully selling cards and making new contacts. Fortunately Katy stayed on for the first day, but on days two and three I was on my own apart from two 15-minute lunch breaks when our North Island sales rep was able to give me a much-appreciated break.
So, when left to my own devices, there was a freedom which came from the fact that success (or otherwise) was really up to me. But I did find myself forming a bond with the surrounding stalls and they did help – at different stages coming on to the stand when I had more than one buyer to talk to. Then there were the times when other stand holders brought food and drinks to the rest of us and the conversations during the quiet times (of which there were a few).
It came as no surprise that, in the end, an informal team developed between me and the other exhibitors. Without that, I truly believe that Poppy Cards wouldn't have been as successful as we were last week. While the results achieved were positive, they wouldn't have been as good if I had tried to do it all on my own.
Unfortunately, my fellow stand holders were not able to assist me with the breakdown of the Poppy Cards stand this presents a case in point. When Mrs Bell and I worked the Gift Fair together, the breakdown of the stand took around an hour and a half and last week, on my own, it took more than three hours – the power of a good team!