There is a well-known phrase that is often used when people talk about teams and the importance of a collaborative approach when working with others towards a common goal. That phrase is ‘there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. But although the word ‘team’ is spelt with no ‘I’, an individual team member’s skills, motivations, emotions and preparation play a large in the success of the overall team. The reason? These are the factors that only the individual can control.


Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Paramount Pictures


There is no better feeling than that of success in a team; the bond of togetherness, the enjoyment of camaraderie and the longevity of shared memories. There are some famous movies that successfully highlight the benefits of taking on a seemingly insurmountable challenge as a team and beating the odds.


Consider the film Mission Impossible. Tom Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt, could never infiltrate the Kremlin or outwit international terrorists without the support of his team. His character has his own set of skills such as leadership and planning. However, he is the only one of his team who is responsible for his own actions, emotions, and behaviours. The key is to use those skills to benefit your team. His own self-focus can help individual preparation, motivation, and performance.


When defined, a team is said to be a collective group of individuals who prepare, challenge and apply themselves with the dedicated ambition of bettering their team. However, within all groups every player has her or his own personal preferences, mentalities and actions regarding all aspects of performance. For example, sports players will have their own, individual pre-match routine;



Oceans Thirteen, Warner Brothers Pictures


procedures they follow, superstitions they trust and preferred methods for motivation. If every player prepared in a generalised team way then the response wouldn’t be the same, it simply wouldn’t work for some players. This is a case where the “me” in team is vital; players need a sense of self-focus and they need to take individually driven actions.



Each member of a team needs to have a sense of individual focus so that they are able to control their own resilience during game situations, as frustration can easily spread throughout a team. Getting annoyed will only distract you from doing your job for the team and any lapse in concentration will result in a decrease in your level of performance.


Let’s look at another example of successful teamwork. Setting aside the legality issues of the circumstances in Oceans 11, the main characters display strong cohesive teamwork. Their collaborative objective is to steal from three Las Vegas casinos at one time. Each member of the group is significantly different to each other. Among the eleven there is Rusty who is the logistics expert, the master pickpocket Linus, Rueben who funds the operation, and Basher who is the ammunitions expert. The story highlights the importance of being able to cooperate and work with those who are highly different from yourself, but who all share a common goal.



The Italian Job, Paramount Pictures


So, what makes you a great addition to the team? When your job is not in play do you sit back and happily applaud your teammates from the bench? No. You work hard in training, perfecting your skills in preparation for your turn to add your specific skills to the team.


In conclusion, the team culture and philosophy is undoubtedly crucial, but it is also essential that individuals within a team focus on developing themselves. All performers in any industry need to ensure that they are in control of their own performance and that they can make the most positive, effective and advantageous contribution to their team. If you are part of the team for your specific skill set or position, you ensure you can offer the very best of your talents to the team. This “me” attitude should not outweigh the team mentality but it should be a continual desire used to promote team progression and success.