The ‘WE’ in the team is always bigger than the ‘ME’. The driving force to come together in the first place ought to be the reference point in everything that the team does. Nothing much ever accrues to an individual working alone as pointed by the great results of teamwork before us. Ants are tiny creatures but their commitment to duty execution in total collaboration with each other has produced magnificent structures in the form of the anthills. Ants choose to offer themselves selflessly to the betterment and good of others. Selfishness doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of ants, with everything being doing for the team.
Ants, like humans, are highly social creatures, choosing to work together towards a common goal. It is the collective agenda rather than anything else that keep them going. Their brains have developed special structures and functions to enable cooperation, clarity of roles, communication and connection within their community. Some types of ants even work together to cultivate and harvest mushrooms for food. This enables and facilitates high levels of productivity in the colony.
The very essence of teamwork comes from the realization that individually, nothing much is achieved. In as much as some team members might possess exceptional talent, such individuals become a pale shadow of their potential without the committed contribution of others. No single individual is bigger than the team. Even the legendary footballer, Pele, would say no individual wins a game by himself, pointing to the power of collaboration.
Ants use special substances called pheromones to convey information about food sources, danger and what needs to be done. Without effective communication, any team, anywhere, is doomed. Clear communication channels go a long way in pushing the team towards the set goal. It doesn’t matter the depth of talent in a team, as long as there are gaps in the way information is conveyed, nothing much is achieved at the end of the day.
Social loafing happens when members of a team work under the pretext that someone else is doing the work, leading to a tendency of sitting back. It becomes disastrous when other team members are also assuming that another is doing the work. At the end of it all, nothing is done. High performance teams are known for exceptional levels of commitment by each team member. The key driving force is that if l don’t play my part, then who will? That is the starting point of great results where each one has an obligation towards the greater good of all. To achieve extraordinary results, great teams have a Common Cause, Communicate effectively with each other, Collaborate, Connect and Commit unto higher productivity.
The ants have mastered this order of working together in effective fashion, with the results of their teamwork being visible everywhere as a reminder to all and sundry that teamwork makes the dream work.