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Frank Roche

Great point, Steve. It always amazes me that managers learn these trite little phrases, which somehow become their management mantra. I like what you say -- people work for their own self interest...in a group. So true.

Another phrase I'd like to go away is, "People don't work for money." It's in the same vein. Amateur psychologists use that phrase to justify underpaying people.


If individuals voices are heard, shared, and built into the team - what you have is "your" team - with people who don't feel included. And what kind of team environment is that? We do hear this all the time about no I in teamwork. This is a good look at the real "I" that is in there - and the importance of understanding it.

Ellen Weber

Great discussion and post here Steve and I so agree with you. Let's put the I back in big time and create teams with some zip! The best teams in my observation will:

•Stir up talents as tools in their groups
•Pay close attention to project requirements and team abilities
•Organize ideas and responses well, using keen communication tactics for flow
•Show originality and build on the offerings of their group
•Identify relevent points from theory and apply insights to tasks
•Avoid the temptation to pass over those who hold back
•Start early to give lots of time for edits
•Use communication and genuine appreciation of other's talents - to build a team community.


Tom Haskins

Right on Steve! When I hear someone say "there's no I in teamwork", I say, "But there's an I in dedication, accomplishment, coordination, commitment and cooperation". Enlightened self-interest is a better concept than selflessness, as you're saying here. Great post!

Steve Roesler

Hi, Frank,

Yep, the money thing never ceases to baffle me.

I watched a fellow with whom I was co-leading a leadership program wax poetic to the group about hygiene factors and the "fact" that money isn't a motivator. One of the participants took umbrance and told him just how wrong he was. Instead of conceding that, perhaps, this fellow was genuinely money-motivated, my partner continued to cite theory that claimed that this fellow didn't know what he was talking about!

Here's the thing: the participant was totally honest in acknowledging that his work was satisfying, he looked forward to challenges, blah, blah, blah...but he woke up in the morning in order to come and get some more money. He even explained that he would work longer hours and weekends to get more money. Why?
He wanted money!

It wasn't a pretty sight and to this day, my workshop partner insists that this guy was obviously confused about what he wanted!! My partner is also no longer employed:-)

Steve Roesler

Lance, glad to know that the post had a truthful ring.

Steve Roesler


My thought is this: all of those things can happen with gusto as long as they serve some purpose for the people involved.

Steve Roesler

Good to see you, Tom.

And I'm going to jot down your "i" words; they do a good job of underscoring the whole idea.

Wally Bock

Congratulations! This post was selected as one of the five best business blog posts of the week in my Three Star Leadership Midweek Review of the Business Blogs.


Wally Bock

Steve Roesler

Wally, thank you for the inclusion.


I recently blogged about new research from Penn State that supports your thesis, Steve:


I think your real-life example above fits nicely with Prof. Stephen Humphrey and his colleagues' findings. I also find it funny how infrequently this argument comes up. Good topic.

Steve Roesler

Hey, Mark,

Thanks for the reference; am definitely going to check it out.

You know, it is a bit amazing how infrequently such buzzlines are questioned. It's as if "It feels right so it must be right." And then such one-liners go on to permeate organizational life and behavior until something stops working and someone has the courage to say: "Uh. . ."

Much appreciated.

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