Teamwork: Why Swim Together?

Laura Mears
Laura Mears
School of salmon swimming together to demonstrate the importance of teamwork.

The importance of teamwork

There is a wonderful visual picture of teamwork in the ocean. A school of salmon mass together in deep rock pools. As they move and shimmer in unison, it gives them the presence of one big fish. This visual tactic puts off predators, and gives them a better chance of survival in the ocean.  

At Salmon Swimming, we recognise the importance of teamwork. 

It’s the same in the workspace as in the ocean. When we are operating as an individual, we may feel more prone to stress and anxiety about work. We may also feel more fearful of messing up, because we don’t have anyone to cover our back when we need it. 

We will also be less efficient: it could take me an hour to figure something out by myself, when it might take someone else just five minutes to show me. Having a collaborative workspace like Slack can be really helpful for sharing challenges and solutions. People love being asked to help solve a problem!

Teamwork sounds like an obvious ingredient of life, yet to many of us, it comes far from naturally. And for those of us who instinctively find it easy to work with others, the current education system conditions us to learn, operate and achieve as individuals. This is a habit we have to un-learn as adults if we want to be efficient and healthy leaders.

Teamwork: so how do we learn to work collaboratively? 

As with all growth, self-awareness is key. We first need to identify what we personally bring to the table, or the ocean! Personality tools like the 5 Voices can help us to identify our super-strengths as well as where we might have gaps. We can then see clearly which other voices or strengths we need to put around us to give us a complete picture. This is vital in communication and sales because, unless we are regularly engaging with how others view the world, we will not be able to reach people who are different to ourselves.

Variety in teamwork

When handled correctly, a Personality System provides greater awareness and can help to explain why there is often tension within teams, among leaders, and at home. For example, the Connector is the champion of relational networks. This means that they love bringing people together! They are always seeing opportunities for change and growth. Similarly, they view the world through the ‘team’ lens, needing to externally process their ideas, and always desiring to bring others along for the adventure!

In contrast, the Guardian voice likes order, structure and due diligence. They are therefore highly self-motivated and hard-working, and are excellent stewards of resources. But too often, the Connector and the Guardian spend their time at loggerheads, or else completely avoiding each other. The Guardian can see the Connector as flighty, inaccurate, and chaotic. The Connector can see the Guardian’s critique and attention to detail as a drain and a bore, preferring to launch ahead with the new idea, without necessarily thinking it through. These tendencies can lead to a natural friction between these two personality types. However, when they learn to understand themselves and the importance of teamwork, wonderful things begin to happen. 

With collaboration, the salmon can survive the ocean, and head towards the freshwaters of the river where the fun begins! 

Want to find out more?

Which personality type do you most clearly identify with? And which kinds of people do you avoid? 

What is your major problem (or predator) today, and which person in your team could help you to solve that problem? 

Collaboration is a skill that can be learned. Get in touch to find out how we can partner with you to help your team get salmon swimming!

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