Community: The Foundation for Teamwork

Never Too Young
My grandson has a passion for the Disney movie “Cars.” I’m sure you know the movie well but as a quick reminder, the story centers on a rookie car, Lightning McQueen, who is so intent on winning a cup race to get a big name sponsor that he ignores everything and everyone. In the movie, he learns to care for more than just his immediate dream. After he understands what it means to be a team member, he willingly gives up his win in order to help a competitor cross the finish line.

The Real Story
The real story, of course, is the community in which Lightning learns to become a team member. He is forced to interact and communicate with a diverse group of personalities; crude and naïve, secretive and bossy, nosy and busy, hard of hearing and shy, foreign and domestic, pro and anti military. The story shows that it takes hard work to become a team and members don’t always make the right choices. Yet, when a group works together and, yes, finds time to play together a deep and strong bond or “community” is developed. This diverse community opens up opportunities that cannot and will not occur if team members had to work alone.

In their book, The Team Approach: With Teamwork Anything is Possible , Dr. Stowell and Ms. Mead describe this community as “the relationships, culture, and environment that create a sense of kinship or special chemistry in a group of people who are working for a shared purpose.” This type of community has to be created and sustained. It doesn’t develop naturally and if it is not nurtured, the community will fail.

The Community
An organization or team can be the whole or, simply, a part of a community. In the movie Lightning McQueen becomes a member of two communities. His first is the racing community consisting of his sponsor, Rusteze, Mack the truck, and the pit crew. Lightning resists and even resents these characters. The second is a dying community of quite eccentric characters. They teach Lightning to care about others by their example of integrity, honesty, and open respect, acceptance, and compassion for each other.

This type of community is critical to the development of quality teams. Teams need members with high integrity, compassion, acceptance, and a deep sense of respect for others. A team cannot achieve amazing results when its members are intent on fulfilling individual goals, too often at the expense of other members, and oblivious to team needs.

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About the Author

Martha Rice