Leadership and teamwork are both important, often co-occurring functions in a business. You can exhibit leadership and teamwork simultaneously, but the role and impact of each carries significance apart from the other. Often, an effective work group or team needs one or more people who exhibit strong leadership and all employees to have a team-oriented attitude.


Leadership typically relates to the abilities of an individual to inspire, direct and set the example for others to follow. Successful business organizations rely on impacting leaders who formulate visions and then guide others in accomplishing tasks that contribute toward realization of that vision and accomplishment of goals. Leaders may have formal management or supervisory roles or may rise up informally within a work group.


A primary function of leadership is motivation. This is partly what separates someone within a work group or team from others who display teamwork. Leaders have personal qualities, such as charisma, empathy and influence that gets others to aspire to optimum levels of performance. Within a team, leadership is often required to create synergy, which is the intangible ability of a group to achieve more than the collection of individuals on their own.


A key quality of teamwork is the emphasis on the contributions toward a collective, group effort. While leadership is about guiding others, teamwork is about fulfilling one's formal and informal commitments toward team objectives. An attitude of teamwork doesn't require that you assert yourself as a leader or distinct team member. You simply contribute your part in achieving group goals.


Whereas leadership is about motivation, teamwork emphasizes collaboration. It is an awareness that for the team to perform optimally, every member must portray an attitude of cooperation. In some teams, work is sequential, meaning each person's efforts are necessary to keep a project moving toward completion. In other cases, teamwork is more about sharing ideas and offering input and work during project discussions and task completion.