Why is Teamwork Important? Military Leadership Lessons for Businesses

16 June 2023

Collaboration and cooperation are essential for any team. Teamwork is important because it enables your operations to run smoothly, and makes everyone within the team feel valued and useful in their role.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the military. Successful military operations revolve around exceptional teamwork, and they can be a matter of life or death. So it’s a great place to discover the importance of teamwork (even if the stakes aren’t quite as high in your office).

In this article, we’ll explore why teamwork is so important in the workplace as well as the military. You’ll also learn how to improve teamwork skills in the workplace, and get a better understanding of what effective teamwork is.

What is Effective Teamwork?

Effective teamwork happens when everyone works together to achieve a common goal. It sounds simple, but there are lots of component parts that need to work in tandem for it to work.

There are ten essential elements of effective teamwork. These are:

  1. Open communication channels — Honesty and openness are key to effective communication.
  2. A common purpose — A team should all be working toward the same goal that stems from the organisation’s objectives.
  3. Individual ownership — Each team member should be accountable for specific work within the team, ensuring everyone makes a valuable contribution.
  4. Leadership and delegation — Good teamwork revolves around the ability of leaders to delegate responsibilities appropriately.
  5. Efficient processes — Efficiency is important to maximise productivity without burning out.
  6. Team building time — Teams don’t always naturally build themselves; you need to spend time together to promote cohesion and ensure productive ongoing relationships.
  7. A culture of creativity — Trust, openness, and lack of judgement can foster a more creative team culture that breeds innovation and helps you solve problems quickly.
  8. Making trust a priority — Trust is a key value that helps team members build relationships, come up with new ideas, and work together effectively.
  9. Collaborative decision making — Allow all team members to contribute to important decisions that affect them.
  10. Effective conflict resolution — No team is friction-free, but good teams know how to deal with conflict swiftly and effectively.

Why Teamwork is Important in the Workplace

Studies have shown that teamwork is the single most influential factor on employee performance, beating trust, leadership, and reward systems. So for employers, there’s a huge incentive for cultivating collaboration in your workplace: better teamwork ultimately leads to improved business performance.

But employees enjoy working in teams, too. Research suggests that 83% of people believe being a team player is very important at work, while the remaining 17% said it’s somewhat important.

Effective teamwork can:

  • Motivate people to perform better
  • Boost productivity
  • Foster creativity
  • Allow people to share knowledge
  • Ensure people feel valued
  • Make use of everyone’s strengths
  • Solve problems with a collaborative approach

It’s human nature to want to work together, but it’s not always easy. Actively working on improving teamwork skills (or giving your team members the space and support they need to do this) is a great way to enhance collaboration at your workplace.

How to Improve Teamwork Skills

There are lots of things you can do to become a better team player, or to cultivate better teamwork among your staff. Here are three military-recommended ways to improve teamwork skills.

Create Learning Opportunities

Former Royal Artillery officer Kate Philp believes learning from others can be a great way to improve teamwork:

“My first tour of Iraq was daunting, but I learned a huge amount: about how to command and interact with different levels of officers and soldiers, to trust your training but also your gut instinct, and to ask for help when necessary. I relied a lot on my peers in particular during this time.”

Sharing knowledge with others will help staff discover their strengths and find their place in the team.

Learn About Your Teammates

Understanding others is key to becoming a good team player. When you know how other people in your team work best, you can use this information to inform the way you approach them.

Humanitarian, soldier, and business leader Andrew MacLeod talks about how a people-first approach to teamwork helped coordinate the relief effort in the aftermath of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake:

“We needed to understand all the different players, their working methodologies, their capacities and their cultures. And through a mechanism of field coordination hubs and constant communications we succeeded in keeping this diverse team together, and did deliver unbelievably successful results.”

Encourage team members to be open about their needs, challenges, and preferences. That way, everyone can understand and accommodate the needs of the entire team.

Understand Why Teamwork is Important

Understanding the fundamental importance of teamwork can motivate you to encourage collaboration among your staff, and help them embrace it themselves. This will help teams build resilience and overcome challenges.

Kate Philp describes how teamwork values like trust and leadership aren’t always a given:

“In Afghanistan my main challenges were people ones. I learned a lot about resilience and pace i.e. understanding that you will form trust with some people more quickly and easily than others, therefore to accept some knockbacks without going into meltdown that you are fundamentally a bad leader, and persevere in finding ways to build those relationships that are more tricky.”

Learning to accept and overcome challenges rather than avoiding them will help teams feel motivated and stay on track to achieve their goals.

Military Leaders Who Can Drive Teamwork & Performance in Your Workplace

Now you know why teamwork is important for both businesses and individuals, it’s time to invest in your teams. Here are ten military speakers who can help build and motivate teams at your workplace.

Neil Laughton

Do you know what it’s like to be not only a helicopter pilot and SAS officer, but also an award-winning entrepreneur? That’s exactly what Neil Laughton is.

Currently the CEO of Laughton & Co, a training and development business, Neil is passionate about travel and adventure. Sharing his unique military, business and adventurous life stories, he wins over and inspires audiences with boundless humour and self-deprecation.

Chris Hadfield

A heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, Chris Hadfield was named the Top Test Pilot in both the US Air Force and the US Navy, and has since been inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Inspiring audiences with An Astronaut’s Guide on Earth, he speaks on leadership and teamwork, and his passion for science and tech.

Andy McNab

After becoming known as the author of Bravo Two Zero, Andy McNab draws on his wealth of SAS experience to deliver inspiring messages about the importance of teamwork in high-pressure situations.

One of the best-known modern military heroes, Andy McNab delivers his incredible story of courage under fire with passion, drama, and humour.

Nicky Moffat

Following a successful 27 year career in the Armed Forces, Nicky Moffat shares her unique insights into leadership, teamwork, and people development as well as policy and financial roles.

As Army Capability Director in the rank of Brigadier, Nicky rose through the ranks to become the most senior woman in the army. She was responsible for the leadership, professional output and standards of 4,500 officers and soldiers, and for delivering major business change.

In 2012, Nicky was appointed Commander of the British Empire in recognition of her work. She now works in sectors as diverse as financial services, oil and energy, transport, media, technology and law.

Tim Peake

While Tim Peake is now best known as an astronaut, he also served in the British Army as an Air Corps officer.

Tim draws on his incredible career as a pilot and astronaut to offer unique insights on collaboration, fear, and risk management. He inspires audiences with his formula for mission success, high performance, and working as part of a team.

Mandy Hickson

Royal Air Force pilot Mandy Hickson has more than 30 years’ aviation experience. The only female RAF aircrew member at the time, Mandy trained on Firefly, Tucano and Hawk aircraft, and has since been awarded many prizes for leadership.

Emphasising the need to remain calm under pressure and how to make risk-based strategic decisions, Mandy shares how to communicate and empower others in order to get the best from them and from yourself.

Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan was part of the SAS eight-man team chosen for the Bravo Two Zero mission, and is now in-demand for talks on leadership, team building, and sharing incredible stories from his time in the SAS.

Ready to motivate your staff to improve their teamwork skills? See more teamwork speakers who can inspire your teams to collaborate and achieve your business goals. Call our team on 02076077070 to book a speaker for your next event.

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