Many advertisements for employees stress the importance of being a "team player." Clearly, a new employee who knows how to cooperate with her co-workers will be more valuable to her new employers than one who does not. In addition to making her more effective in her job, knowing how to be part of a team offers internal and personal benefits as well.
Any job has its moments where things get difficult. Hardship may come in the form of an overwhelming amount of work, a difficult client, or a problem that refuses to be solved. If you are working alone, it's up to you to solve the problem. When you are part of a team, you can ask other members of the team for assistance. Other team members may have insights, expertise or experience that you don't, and you will no doubt be able to help them in the same way at other times. When this kind of cooperation is combined with each team member doing his best, the result is a very strong team.
If you work in a position that requires creativity and insight, you will no doubt have days when these things are in short supply. In an isolated situation, it can be difficult to overcome these mental roadblocks to your own success. Working within a team gives you access to other minds besides your own, minds that may be having great ideas at the very moment that you are out of them. Great minds working together can create a net of creativity that will catch any opportunities that come your way.
"Synergy" is a word coined by the scientist and inventor Buckminster Fuller to describe a system with capabilities that are more than the sum of its parts. This is a perfect description of a functioning team. Putting motivated and cooperative people together, the result is greater than, rather than equal to, the sum of their separate abilities. The interaction between different people's abilities, ideas, inspirations and projects stimulates all participants to reach greater heights. A team creates positive feedback loops between individuals and can lead to unexpected and superior results.
Learning how to cooperate with others can help you on a personal as well as a professional level. Realizing the importance of cooperation can bring a reticent individual out of her shell, and make an arrogant individual realize that sometimes the ideas of others are as good as her own. Cooperation can engender pride in goals reached together, a healthy humility, and excitement about future possibilities when the collective strengths of a good team are applied to new challenges.
- Team work image by Ricardo Verde Costa from Fotolia.com