Teamwork is a key to success

In the last weeks posts, I reported on the results of the latest Gallup poll which found that only 30% of the 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs are “actively engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.” 50 million, a full 50% of American workers, are “not engaged” and are going through the motions at work and about 20 million are “actively disengaged,” hate going to work, and undermine their companies with their attitude, according to the report.

Given this reality, I said I was going to write a series of articles on why this is the case and what you can start doing immediately to make sure this does not continue in your company because statistically, 7 out of 10 of your workers are not actively engaged.

In addition to the reasons I’ve written about the last two weeks, another big reason is the lack of teamwork. In order to appreciate the importance of this factor, consider our definition of a successful organization: a group of enthusiastic, confident, optimistic, appreciative and happy people who work together on behalf of a future they have all committed themselves to. (This definition is in the first paragraph of the introduction to Unshackled Leadership )

Without a high degree of teamwork, there’s no possibility of people effectively working together. And what’s a major reason for the lack of teamwork? Most people haven’t learned the most basic rules of simply getting along. In every organization we’ve worked with, there have been unspoken and un-dealt with issues that rob people of their desire to work closely with their co-workers.

Human beings go into all relationships with expectations. It’s just human nature. Since it’s unreasonable and unrealistic for others to always live up to our expectations, what’s inevitable is that sooner or later, our expectations will be unfulfilled and we will be disappointed.

So far, no real problem. The problem occurs because we don’t communicate our disappointments and instead, file them away in the bottomless metaphorical file cabinet we all carry. The reason for this is simple: it’s scary business to communicate upsets and disappointments and the only model most have been given is one of confrontation. I know you’ve all ended up in shouting matches at one time or another.

For true teamwork to occur, people have to learn three fundamental rules of effective human interaction: you must keep your files empty; you must learn to communicate appropriately; and you must learn to make it safe for the people in your life to communicate to you. When files are empty, what’s present is openness, intimacy and trust, the hallmarks of nurturing relationships.

In the next couple of posts, I’ll explore in greater detail the above rules. But if you want to get a head start, it’s all explained in detail in Chapter 14 of Unshackled Leadership. Get your copy today at  

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