In my last post I talked about the difference between running a business with employees and with team members.  I pointed out that on a real team, as opposed to what are just regular business employee groups with a fancy title, is a group of differently talented people who fill needed roles in a business and work cooperatively together to achieve common goals.

This is more than semantics.

In the traditional business the owner is the boss and those who work there are employees.  The employees have defined roles and the boss makes the decisions.  Virtually all the employees that do the same tasks have similar job titles, compensation and their focus is on performing their function as well as is expected.  These people are “hired” and they are “supervised”.  They have no responsibility for the success of the enterprise and their investment in its success is limited to their continued “employment”.

A team is quite different.  On a team each “player” may have a role but they aren’t limited by that role or by a job description.  On a basketball team the center is responsible for the paint and for guarding and scoring largely in that space.  But he is also able, and encouraged, to play perimeter defense and score beyond the arc if he can.   On a basketball team roles are flexible.  On a team oriented business every “player” has the same opportunities and they are also responsible to do whatever they can to help the team win.

On a team the entrepreneur’s job is to assemble a talented group who can meet the business’s needs.  His job is to teach, mentor, encourage and direct the team.  His job is to coach!

On a team everyone is responsible for success and merely playing their role is not enough.  So, this takes unusual qualities in all the people – team members and coach – because everyone must be willing to take responsibility.

Teams may have qualities like families do but there is a difference here.  In a family you’re in for life regardless of whether you perform or not.  On a team players who don’t do their part get cut.  But on a team oriented business cutting a player may have as much to do with improving the team’s performance as it does with the contribution of an individual.

Team oriented business isn’t for everyone.  It’s harder in many ways than a traditional business.  And, like every metaphor, the team concept doesn’t work perfectly at all times.  But it’s a very powerful way of looking at a business.  Teams are made up of uniquely talented people, who recognize their responsibilities, contribute to the success of the team in every way they can without being asked and expect to be rewarded for contribution rather than role.

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