Regular readers know that I'm a pretty positive and mellow dude. This is, in fact, true.
Except when I hear stupid stuff that gets repeated so often and thoughtlessly that it becomes faux "management wisdom." When repeated by people with position power it can take entire groups of employees down the wrong path.
One such example: "There is no 'I' in "teamwork."
The underlying message here is that teamwork is all about subverting one's self to the overarching mission of the team, thus negating the "self" as an entity to be dealt with.
Humans are all about self-interest. If you are a manager who wants a group of people to work together on anything, you better find the special something that touches the members involved. That means talking with each person individually to find out what they need--(or want to avoid)--as part of the team effort.
A Real-Life Example
It's late on Sunday night and I'm laying out a presentation for an executive team who is going to have to support and implement a global talent management process. They already believe in the process and want to see it happen.
But they have to make it happen. That means satisfying each person's felt need: more information about career development, minimal administrative hassle, streamlined activities that minimize task time, equal access to talent from other divisions, lack of interference with other business priorities. . . all of these are in play. Unless each person's driving need is satisfied, the program won't get off the ground in a meaningful way no matter how much the team is for it.
There is a huge "I' in teamwork and it's this: If "I" am managing the team, then "I" have to help each of "you" get what you need in order to be able to participate wholeheartedly.
It's not selfish to look after your self-interest. It's human. At work, it can mean the difference between focused high performance or diluted activity.
Managers who pay attention to the "I" in teamwork will serve their people, their teams, and their organizations well.
Bonus example: Check out Chris Bailey's The Art of Managing Self-Interest.