Teamwork and the Language of Me

I’m working with a local government department director who regularly talks about “his projects”, “his people” and “his plan”.   No mention of the team, but a lot of mentions about him.   It’s probably natural to talk this way, but it doesn’t speak to humility or teamwork – both important traits that value others.

Something about the language of “me” drives me crazy.

He’s subtly saying “he” has all the answers and everyone else is at there to serve him and make his goals a reality.

Compare the “me” language to an interview earlier in 2018 with golfer Ricky Fowler after his 3rd round at the Masters:

How’d you do today?

We did a little bit better today tee to green…to make the puts we did today, birdies, par saves kept us in the round…all in all a great moving day; to put ourselves in a spot to win.

You’re 5 under – how will you respond tomorrow?

I’ve been playing well….got under par quickly…we’re in a good spot…to give ourselves an chance to win.

What you need to do to catch up to Patrick?

Patrick’s playing solid golf….I’m just going to go out and keep playing solid golf like we’ve been doing all week.  I feel like we’ve done a great job of that…


Here’s a professional golfer….playing what most would say is an “individual” sport, not a team sport.  Yet Ricky Fowler kept answering the interviewers questions about HIM with responses about US.

I know one thing….people want to be a “part” of something and they want to be included and valued.   They yearn to be part of a team that puts forth focused effort to hopefully win together and to act in unison.

Local governments are no different than private businesses in this regard.  Leaders can be about the team or they can be about themselves.

Language is important.   When we refer to the work of the team as “the teams’ work” we elevate others and we honor their contribution.    Author Tom Collin’s book “Good to Great” speaks to this when he talks about Level 5 leaders.   They give credit to the team when things succeed and they take personal responsibility when things go south.

Teamwork has so many benefits and when done well can improve results and morale.

If your business or local government is not working together as a team and you want to learn the “Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” give us a call or email. or call (678) 833-4310.

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