Teamwork at its Finest: Lessons Learned from Teens

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Every now and then you get a chance to witness teamwork operating at its finest. Usually this is found in sophisticated work environments or in places where adults have known one another for a long period of time. I however have found it at a high school with a group of seniors who have come from a variety of backgrounds with enormous variations in economic and social status.

As a group, there is nothing special that stands out among them as evident in their number of 29 with the majority of them being males. With the exception of a few, they are not the most intelligent, athletic or popular class. Their personal interests are varied from medical school to marines, from marine biology to hunting, from football to dance, and from art to engineering. Yet they get along with surprising contentment for their differences. How? There are three observations as to how they have accomplished this task.

Servant leadership. One of the most striking features of this group is their ability to transfer leadership from one to another depending on the circumstances. On the football field, one senior is the leader, in the classroom another senior is the leader, and when planning the social functions yet another senior is the leader. The overall attitude of the group is to serve one another by serving the interests of the entire group instead of an individual. Thus they are more willing to accept alternative leaders from within their class and work together by pooling from each person’s strengths instead of competing for center stage.

Respect for each other. To be sure, there are times when there is tension in the group and one person feels disrespected by another, there may even be an occasional disagreement. But when there is a disagreement, instead of taking sides, the group tends to encourage each one to come back to the group and not allow the disagreement to destroy the unity. This in turn allows an individual to admit their faults, feel accepted and more importantly prevents them from “losing face” in front of their peers. In the end, all is forgiven and respect for each other is willingly returned.

Focus on the group. The above two observations occur when all the members of the group understand the value in preserving a group and creating a teamwork environment. Strangely enough, the desire for teamwork was not accomplished by taking personality assessments or listening to a speaker, instead the desire grew by witnessing how a lack of teamwork affects the individuals of a group. As a result, by seeing what they did not want to become, they were motivated to move past the petty circumstantial issues and focus more on what is best for the group as a whole.

So who is this exceptional group of young individuals who have managed to learn significant life lessons about teamwork? They are the current seniors at Foundation Academy, a private Christian school, in Winter Garden, Florida and without exception they are all extraordinary students not just for their individual accomplishments but also for their group mentality. Isn’t it nice to hear about the positive impact of a group of teens can make in their culture instead of the negative impact of so many others?

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About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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