How Leaders Destroy Teamwork

Leaders can begin to break apart the cohesion of a team without even recognizing it.

Organizations are often broken down into different departments.

Your church or business may have a technology department, financial department, outreach/marketing department and more. They’re all vying for the same thing.

To grow the organization.

While the goal of each department may be to grow the organization, that goal is frequently hindered by the attitudes held within each department.

It’s not on purpose, but each department may secretly harbor ill-will toward those “other” workers.

They see them as competition, not as team-mates. And we, as leaders, often promote this type of behavior.

How Leaders Destroy Teamwork

The little things leaders do can lead to big-time issues in their businesses. Leaders can begin to break apart the cohesion of a team without even recognizing it.

Leaders destroy teamwork when:

They make departments compete against each other: The idea is that competition breeds innovation. It can and does, but it also creates strife among team members.

By throwing out contests where people have to compete against one another, you’re making your team enemies. They see each other as people who need to be defeated.

They favor one department over another: This happens for many different reasons, but it’s always dangerous.

You may have started out in the finance department and moved into a leadership role in the human resources department. Because of the great time you had in financials, you give preferential treatment to the whims of the employees there.

Then John, in sales, picks up on the feeling. He sees it as a slight against him and his team and feelings of resentment begin to well up.

It’s a vicious cycle when we begin showing favoritism.

They say, “It’s not my/our job”: I believe the quickest way a leader can destroy teamwork is to begin stating that certain responsibilities are not their job.

If you’re working in an organization and you see something out of place, it’s your job to work on fixing it. Whether that’s taking action and fixing the problem or bringing the issue to the correct person, you and your department have the responsibility to step up and take care of it.

These actions are divisive activities. They put a wedge between people who should be working together, not competing against each other.

You’re All on the Same Team

The previous section discussed what leaders do to divide teams. They’re all actions that seem innocent on the outside, yet they cause teams to fight one another.

This isn’t the reaction leaders want. They should be striving to bring the different departments in an organization together. They are, after all, on the same team.

The marketing department helps the sales department by getting new leads. The IT department helps every department communicate better. The finance department helps the sales team by allocating financial resources so they can make more sales.

We’re not against each other. We’re all on the same team.

Question: Are the departments in your organization all on the same team or does it need work? Why do you think this is?

Joseph Lalonde
Joseph Lalonde is passionate to see young people serving God and becoming the leader God has created them to be. He served as a youth leader for 15 years and is on a new journey now. You can find him encouraging young leaders here and on Twitter.