What Type of Team Are We?

A common difficulty within a team is not knowing the way it functions. How do the members make decisions? Do I set goals and carry them out by myself? What is expected of me as a member?

When members have different expectations of the team structure, problems ensue. Imagine you thought you were joining a choir, but it was actually a solo event. Or, imagine you were longing for the relative freedom, yet support, of a swim team, but learned that your team functions like a soccer team, with little room for independence.

Photo by  Louis Hansel  on  Unsplash

This happens all too often. With confused expectations, team members may experience:

  • frustration

  • hurt

  • disappointment

  • disrespect

And when this happens, as you might suspect, meeting the team’s desired goals is rare, because team members are unintentionally working at cross-purposes.




No one wants to be on a confused and unproductive team! How do you proceed?

The following will give some ideas to help navigate team-type identification.

If you think this might be happening on your team, consider requesting a discussion asking, “What type of team are we?” Consider using metaphorical terms to launch your discussion. Here are some variations of teams with, more and less, degrees of interdependence. Feel free to use others, or more, but be sure to choose ones with which everyone on your team is familiar.


Photo by  Marvin Meyer  on  Unsplash
  • basketball

  • soccer

  • doubles tennis

  • golf or swimming

Or maybe music:

  • solo

  • duet

  • quartet

  • choir/orchestra

For someone exploring an organization and team options:  If you are considering a new team or organization, it’s beneficial to evaluate what type of team is needed to accomplish your personal vision. Consider what type of team would help you thrive. As you research organizations and/or teams, ask staff questions like, “If your staff team were a type of sports team, what type would it be and why?”

For leaders:   Evaluate, if you haven’t already:

  • What is your team’s common goal?

  • What type of interdependence is needed to accomplish that goal?

  • How has your team been functioning so far?

  • What changes need to be made?

  • What type of communication will be most helpful to your team?

When it comes to sports and music, it is much easier to identify what type of team you are joining. Sadly, in many of our teams, the equipment and the basic rules aren’t as easy to identify.

Take time to consider and discuss these issues with your team. It can save you and others from problems later in your “performance.”