The Value of Team

Empowering individual team members who have a variety of abilities with varying ways to get where they’re going is not the easiest thing to do. It’s much easier when everyone agrees with your way of doing things, isn’t it? But is that the most effective way to do business?

I hate to admit it, but there was a time when as the fundraiser in an organization, I resented what I perceived to be unnecessary barriers from the finance department and they resented my supposed disrespect for processes.

When we decided to understand what each individual’s role was and why they did things the way they did them, an environment of working against each other became one of working together. Each team member was now thinking about how their area could retain its integrity while supporting other areas.

These types of tensions exist throughout an organization, whether it’s program delivery, finance, administration, fundraising, IT, strategy or HR – seemingly on extreme ends of the spectrum, all are needed.

ST_TOS_CastOne of my favourite teams, and one most of us are familiar with, is the crew of the original Star Trek series. Although they are a fictional team, they have a lot to teach us.

Talk about different personalities and ways of doing things leading to some very intense situations! Let’s take a look at their leadership team, shall we?

First you have the captain. He’s the visionary and operates from gut instinct. He’s quick on his feet and makes decisions quickly.  He’s passionate about their mission and that same passion lands him in a bit of hot water every now and then.

Then you have the cool-headed and scientific first officer. He’s about 3 feet above everyone’s emotions, including his own. He clearly sees the best outcome based on facts and looks for a logical path, regardless of how it affects anyone on a personal level. He’s the proverbial ‘sacrifice the one for the benefit of the 1000’ guy even if he’s the sacrifice.

Then there’s the specialist. The good doctor is an excellent doctor. He knows the ins and outs of anything medical and anything he doesn’t know, he makes a point of learning. He is an expert in his field. He operates within his competency. If you want to push him over the edge, put him in charge of something outside of his training, and you’re sure to hear something like, “Damn it Jim, I’m a doctor, not a magician!”

This team also has an engineer. He keeps all the systems running. Just tell him what you need and he’ll do his darndest to adapt the system to give you what you need, albeit at the expense of other systems at times.

In spite of their differences, each team member is committed to the mission. Each one brings their unique gifts to the table. Because they have different perspectives it is easy to see how they might disagree with each other at times. But imagine how their missions might have turned out if they had all thought like Kirk? Or Spock? Or McCoy? Not a pretty picture, is it?

Just as it is with the Enterprise crew, your diverse team members all play a role to keep your organization on course.

Understanding that each member is critical to the team, what are some ways that you can take steps to better understand your peers and support them in their work?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.



  1. Wyrd Smythe

    Baseball is another great metaphor for expressing the value of both team work and the importance of individual contribution. The importance of the team is pretty clear, but just try to play a game without a catcher or a pitcher or a first baseman. And when it comes to batting, any individual can be the one that hits that winning homerun.

    Remember: There is no “I” in “team” (but there is a “me”). XD

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