The Choice Between Collaboration and Teamwork: A Personal Perspective

These days, it’s popular to talk about being part of a team – being a team player is desired, being a loner is not desired.

Sometimes, working in a team seems good – every viewpoint is considered, every desire included, and the end result is – hopefully – something that everyone on the team wants and can stand behind.

The truth is not that clear-cut: often what happens when everyone on a team has an equal say is that either some form of compromise is reached where nobody gets what they want entirely (that’s the best possibility); or factions form and argue for their viewpoint, eventually wearing down any team member who disagrees. It’s rare that the result is what everyone wants, and frequent that the result was obtained through peer pressure.

That’s collaboration. I have heard it working well in communities where the rules of collaboration are clearly laid out and followed, but more times than not, the collaborative effort eventually disintegrates. Sometimes what is termed collaboration is really thoughtfully administered teamwork.

The only way I’ve seen teams work is when there is a leader who has the last word. That leader’s responsibility is to ensure the vision, objectives, goals and priorities of the person or people needing the work done are adhered to, and to assist each team member in reaching their objectives in a way that works for the team as a whole.

Collaboration, or teamwork? It is becoming increasingly clear to me that true collaboration is an ideal that isn’t often attainable. I’ve been involved in efforts at collaboration. It’s painful. I’ve also been a member of teams and led teams. And for the sake of my energy, passion for what I’m involved in, and sense of safety and well-being, I choose open and honest teamwork hands down.  


Quote of the Week

You are either supporting the vision or supporting division.”

– Saji Ijiyemi


Working together to make things happen


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