Although they may seem like an unusual place to find inspiring lessons on teamwork, the giant redwood forests have a lot to teach us.
The majestic trees found in the redwood forests of California have been on the earth for over 100 million years. At one point, giant redwoods could be found almost everywhere in the world, but they are now found primarily in a narrow strip of land near the California coast. The statistics describing the redwood tree are truly amazing: These giants can live for upwards of 2000 years. They can weigh up to of 500 tons. They may grow to a height of over 350 feet and be over 25 feet in diameter.
You would think that the root system for trees of this type would go deep into the earth, providing the support it would need to weather high winds, lightning storms, and earthquakes. You would be mistaken. In my research on these trees, I was amazed to learn the root systems of these giants only go between eight and ten feet deep. The roots of each tree spread out laterally and interlock with the root systems of surrounding trees, giving them the strength they need to stay upright over millennia. And in addition to the joint strength of their roots these trees also release upwards of 500 gallons of water into the air each day to help create a moist fog that provides the other trees and plants in the forest the water they need to live.
CMOE defines teamwork as, “A group of people who combine their energy and efforts to achieve a common goal; A group of people who clearly understand the team’s goals and are committed to achieving those goals; A group in which team members understand their roles and responsibilities. Productive teams have an atmosphere of trust and are completely accountable for their results. Each team member invests in the team through their actions and attitudes. Team members are respectful, caring and cooperative. Teams are the mechanism by which organizations can unlock world-class results.”
The redwoods are a prime example of effective teamwork. In order to survive, withstanding adversities and inevitable hardships, all the redwoods must work together. By sharing their main resource (water) with the other trees and plants in the forest, they are truly making and investment in the team, and through their teamwork, these trees have absolutely unlocked “world-class” results – they are breathtaking.
We can learn many lessons from nature. How much stronger might we make our teams if we were to implement some of the same survival strategies found in the redwoods? If each member of the team became more concerned about supporting the whole team, how much better could the whole team be? What if the individual members of the team were more open in sharing their resources (their talents, ideas, and workload) with one another? By making these decisions and becoming a little more like the redwoods, we can all help to create environments where teams can unlock their true potential.