Teamwork Gems & Newly Defined Create Startling Results

Teamwork Defined with New Gems

Every minute of teamwork requires adapting to each other, to changing conditions, and sometimes to changing goals. 

The traditional definition of teamwork people working together to reach a shared common goal, sounds logical, seems clear — and falls short of success

It makes a glaring assumption that people will adapt and change as needed to reach the common goal.

Yet, with this definition of teamwork, most people work toward the common goal from and within their own perspective.

The Result? Teams that cannot quickly adapt to change. When the business starts to change or new opportunities arise, leaders bring in outsiders or must sometimes pass on the opportunity.

A great definition of teamwork includes a call to action to build and exercise change-ability skills for optimal teamwork in any situation.

Picture your organization using this new definition of teamwork:

Growth and change within team members to achieve a common success.

It’s applicable to changing environments, is very clear, and defines teamwork as adapting to reach the common goal instead of working to reach the common goal

This definition of teamwork creates startling results when you use it with these four precious gems.



RUBY. Passion for learning. When you create a learning (not training) culture, the team exercises its change-ability muscles. Learning is change and one that most people welcome since it enhances their careers and no one can fail. 
The startling result is a stream of new contributions because all are involved in continuous improvement.

Creativity increases and critical thinking improves. Athletic teams regularly exercise for improved performance and theater troupes explore new ideas for this same reason. Unfortunately teams focused on production often get locked in daily routines. Create startling new results with a learning culture.

Action Item: Pick one topic related to business, teamwork, service, sales, or technology. Have each team member Google/Bing on the topic and collate those results online.  At a virtual team meeting, take 15 minutes for team members to identify aloud what info they can use and how.  Make this a weekly event and watch the teams create, collaborate, and flex to changing needs.


By: ThisIsBossi

By: ThisIsBossi


EMERALD. Leader with a confident ego. If you have a learning culture, the leader must feel confident even with constructive dissenters and creative strategic thinkers on the team. This confident leader is the emerald gem of teamwork — reminding us all of The Wizard of Oz. Toward the end of the movie the curtain is drawn back to reveal there is no all-powerful wizard. He is instead a wise caring person.  His insights flow from there.



By: ThisIsBossi

By: ThisIsBossi


SAPPHIRE. Human bonding on diverse and distributed teams.  The evil of isolation due to distance or differences undermines the full potential of teams. Picture world-wide technology rollout teams who have never met, come from different cultures, and rotate team members. If no bonding is addressed, the teams will fall short of full success. Use video-based virtual meetings to introduce team members. Build understanding on topics of personality type, generational differences, cultural norms, learning style, and pet peeves!



By: TambakoTheJaguar

By: TambakoTheJaguar


DIAMOND. The I’s in Team. There are several I’s in teamwork – individual initiative and identity committed to the team. Respect and acknowledge individual talents contributed to the whole. It inspires greater contributions and willingness to share and teach. Some organizations call this the essential piece culture where everyone knows how they contribute to the whole success.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

©2011-2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. For permission to re-post or republish, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on employee engagement, customer service & experience, teamwork, and leading change. Kate turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

18 Responses to “Teamwork Gems & Newly Defined Create Startling Results”

  1. L. Whittle says:

    I am very excited to hear the I’s in team. Many managers and leaders believe giving individual recognition is “anti-team”. It isn’t. It spurs me on to work harder for the team.

  2. Ric Morgan says:

    First, I love the “new” definition of a team…it is very true and certainly does reflect the change in the ways of thinking in business
    in this century.

    Next, the use of gems to illustrate your points is very clever. I like
    the way each one enhances the meaning of the text, and how you progress from the least to the most expensive (well, some sapphires are now considered more valuable than diamonds, but we won’t go there).

    Finally, I like the way you dispell the thinking that there is no “I” in
    TEAM. Everyone thinks of themselves as being a major contributor to the team (whether they really are or not), and place a lot of their self-esteem in that contribution. It is important for a leader to recognize that and the person who came up with that concept of no “I” in team didn’t know what they were talking about. It may work in the military where the concept is a necessity, but it doesn’t work in business where a person’s ego is involved.

    Good job Kate,


  3. Laura Rivchun says:

    Very clever, Kate. I agree with Ric that your usage of gems is a great way to illustrate a point. I particularly like the comparison you make on the “emerald” gem to the Wizard of Oz.

    Teamwork is important in every aspect of our lives. It shows a sense of committment, fair play and enthusiasm. People tend to be creative when working in a team environment and learn things about themselves they wouldn’t have otherwise. When I was a recruiter, being a “teamplayer” was always at the top of the client’s “requirements” list. No one works in a vacuum. It’s a great feeling knowing your contribution has made a difference. Your success is the team’s success and vice versa. One of my financial clients said, “I want an employee who has a sense of ownership”. That ownership should be a shared experience.

    You hit the nail right on the head with this one, Kate. Kudos to you.

    Keep the gems coming!

  4. Liam says:

    Hi Kate

    Thanks for showing me this.

    This is an interesting angle on teamwork.

    I think it’s very important to validate the individuals within the team. All too often, in working environments I have seen, ‘teamwork’ becomes another word for a totalitarian culture where a person’s personality, experience and values have no value.

    Regarding the change aspect, I would tread with caution, because there are a great many teams which are required to conduct operations but not change them, and any changes have to go through a long and elaborate change request process before they will even be considered. On the other hand, if teams were more engaged in the manner you suggested, then the ‘front line’ workers might pay more attention to their processes and suggest improvements using the meetings as a filter before the change requests get submitted.

    This might improve the quality of the change requests.

    Best wishes


  5. Kate Nasser says:

    Hi Liam,
    Thanks for commenting on my teamwork post. As for the change aspect, I wasn’t speaking of changing processes — I was speaking of team members willing to change their attitudes, interactions, etc… That is what makes teamwork work! It is the missing link. People come to a team, have a common goal, maybe even inspired to give their all — yet they don’t think of adapting to others’ personality types, listening with another listening style, understanding how they come across to others, and working on honesty w/diplomacy, and the list goes on.

    Your reply pointed out that I could have made that distinction clearer and I thank you for that!
    Warmest wishes,
    Kate Nasser

  6. Audrey Williams says:

    The usage of the Gems to define Teamwork is an excellent idea since it has given new meaning with focus on the “I” in the team. The major factor is “Self Esteem” (beginning from the inner-man) since this initiates your contributions to the team by being flexible and adaptable to the learning culture, builds confidence in the leader, success through a combination of various activities and recognition for your worth as an individual.

  7. Anne Egros says:

    Hi Kate Your article gives a perfect vision on what teamwork means today for success.

  8. Simona says:

    Wonderful lessons of teamwork dear Kate!
    I don’t have anything to add, only to say thank you for these useful advises.

    My best regards,

  9. Great post, Kate! Thought provoking, to be sure. At Blanchard we use a slightly different definition of teams: “Two or more people who must work together to accomplish a common purpose and are mutually accountable for the results.” It is critical to embed mutual accountability to ensure the right results are delivered consistently – your post hits that hard!



    • Kate Nasser says:

      Chris .. I love the “mutual accountability” aspect you mention. I do believe that “adapting to changes” needs to be a part of the definition of teamwork!

      Thanks for your addition to this post.

  10. Joe Williams says:

    Thinking about emerald, how does one get dissenters to be constructive? Here is my thought. Most of the time the resistance of the dissenters arises from a fear of change. Therefore, get the dissenters involved in identifying what is best about the status quo – those things that ought to be preserved, or the standards that must be met – as a way to get from critic to contributor.

  11. Jesse Stoner says:

    Great post, Kate. I think you are totally on target. Change-ability is the hallmark of a great team – the ability to flexibly adapt to an ever changing environment. I love your metaphor – clever and creative.

  12. Susan Mazza says:

    One of the things I like about your new definition of teamwork is that it begins to crack the context of teamwork being a bunch of individuals with assigned tasks (implied in “working”) and shifts the context to the need to do what it takes to be successful (implied in your use of the word “adapting”).

    The metaphor of the gems is also very creative and especially appreciate you putting the “I” back in Team. Until everyone relates to the success of the team as being up to them as individuals there isn’t a team, just a collection of people who commit only to do their part without owning the success of the whole team.

  13. Love this post Kate! I like to say that teamwork is an on-going relationship. You have to work on it constantly or it will dissolve. Before you know it, you are having one of those “how did we get here conversations”. One of the biggest barriers to the relationship is embracing conflict. Great teams understand that it is a necessary component to finding the best solutions.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Love your comment about the “how did we get here” conversation. By then, it’s often too late. Thanks for contributing Joshua. I am always glad to see your teamwork insights!

  14. Guy Farmer says:

    Great ideas Kate. I really like the concept of people looking within first and then working with each other to create a successful team. Effective teams are often made up of self-aware individuals who are able to work with others without getting their stuff all over them.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Absolutely Guy. You stated it so clearly — self-aware individuals who are able to work with others without getting their stuff all over them! Bravo.

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