Teams create speed, plain and simple. Why? Because they allow us to demonstrate our optimal performance because of others around us who are doing the same. It is this cumulative effect of expertise and effort that simultaneously delivers great results AND improves the future performance of all team members. So, why do people insist on going it alone?

Think of the last time you were at a business conference where the speaker announced to the room, “Now turn to your table mates, and let’s engage in a group exercise.” If it is like many sessions that I’ve been to, there is an audible groan, a quick check of the emails, and then an excuse made to leave the room with a promise of, “I’ll be right back.”

Think of someone learning a new musical instrument. The best thing that he or she could do is take lessons, find musicians of a similar ability, and join a band. A collection of novices will learn from each other as well as push each other to master that next stanza and ultimately that next song. However, the natural inclination of many people is to go find a room where they can try to not let anybody hear the notes they’re straining to get out that sound like the cries of a hungry cat in heat.

When faced with a new task, many people naturally want to figure it out on their own. It is difficult working with people we don’t know for the first time, especially when we don’t know what they might bring to the table. It’s challenging to establish who’s in charge or how will decisions get made. And, it’s uncomfortable to put ourselves in a situation where we might look silly because we don’t have all the answers.

Performers never reach the top of their ability without teams. Never.

Now, an impromptu group discussion or a collection of horrifically bad musicians does not a team make. Teams have to develop a culture and norms, and this takes time. They have to learn how to communicate and handle disagreements. They must have mutual trust and respect for each other’s abilities. And, they must be comprised of a collection of diverse people with disparate, complementary skills, a mutual purpose, and complete interdependability.

Think about a 4x100m relay team in the Olympics. The reason their collective 400m time is faster than the addition of all of their fastest 100m times is a function of the benefit of teams: they all get to do what they do best, run at full speed, and never have to look back for the baton being passed to them. Teams satisfy the need for speed for your organization as well as your clients. Don’t go it alone.

Listen to this edition of the HighPer 7 podcast to learn more!

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