Cooperating as a Team
Getting any group of people to continually cooperate with one another over time is a nearly impossible task, but getting work teams to cooperate is especially difficult. With a mix of ideas, values, perspectives, and personalities, teams more commonly manifest resistance than cooperation if left to its' own devices. It is the team leader's responsibility to assure that the three basic conditions exist to facilitate cooperation.
Genuine cooperation can only occur when team members possess shared goals, shared power, and shared trust. If team members want to see different outcomes in the same situation, cooperation is not possible. Members will compete, or avoid issues altogether, but they will not work together cooperatively when members want to see different results. It is the job of the team leader to specify the desired results when the team is pulling for differing outcomes. Once shared goals are identified, team members can be held accountable for moving together towards goal achievement.
Next, the team must have shared power while moving towards their goals. Shared power comes when the team leader and team members are able to influence one another without becoming coercive or deceptive. Teams who attain a balance of power between members, and between members and leaders, will sidestep non-productive conflict in favour of examining differing viewpoints and arriving at integrative solutions.
Finally, team members and leaders must be able to trust one another, or at the very least, build situational trust, in order to foster the needed level of interdependence required to achieve their goals. Trust is built by making and keeping commitments. The more frequently teams behave in a cooperative manner; the more team trust will be reinforced. With a strong foundation of trust, shared goals emerge more easily, and a natural balance of power will surface. This self-perpetuating cycle will set the team up for progressively greater success over time.