3 Powerful Principles About Teamwork I Learned From My Dogs

I have 3 dogs. I spend a lot of time watching and studying what they do and how they interact with each other. I have discovered that we can learn a lot about effective teamwork by recognizing some key principles I have observed.

1) Respect your elders.

When dogs get together, they immediately recognize their place and role within a pack. They are aware of the age and level of experience that exists among the group. Younger, less experienced dogs respect, watch, and learn from the older, more experienced dogs. The younger, less experienced players are neither defensive nor embarrassed by their place and role within the team. They simply accept it and immediately begin trying to learn from the others so they can improve their position. They don't blame team members for their status and they don't expect others to improve their position for them.

Teams within organizations can benefit by emulating this attitude. So often, team members are trying to advance themselves by denigrating others. They have a scarcity mentality; they believe that in order to win, someone else has to lose. Teams function much more effectively when we recognize and respect each other's experience and strengths and try to leverage them to make the organization and the team better.

2) Work together toward a common goal.

One dog cannot typically take down prey alone. They work together as a team to succeed and survive. They recognize that working together will achieve a better result and every member will benefit.

Accepting the diversity within a team is the key to working together successfully. When we work toward a common goal, it removes the need to advance our individual needs. When the team reaches the goal, the whole team wins. As leaders, it is our job to make sure we are providing the goals for our teams. We have to keep them focused on the organizational goals to promote teamwork.

3) Have some fun!

All members of a pack play their roles and work hard. But, they also take time out of their day to play and have fun. The time they spend playing together allows them to build stronger bonds. It helps them to understand each other better.

Team members in organizations must take time to have fun together NOT talking shop. Whether it be social gatherings or team building exercises, these times together are imperative for a team to function successfully. It adds a new level of positive dynamics to the team. They learn more and gain a better understanding of each other. The more we understand each other, the better we will get along and handle challenging times together.

Building a collaborative team is one of the most common challenges that I hear as a business coach. Business owners are typically so frustrated with the unproductive behaviors of their teams that they have given up. Achieving a strong, accountable team seems impossible. I believe the way to fix this problem is to return to the fundamentals of team dynamics. Sometimes it is the simple, most obvious things we miss, that once implemented, make all the difference.

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