The Language of Teams


Working with each other.

Working for each other.

Two statements that evoke a very different perspective.

A very different emotion.

Working with each other is the language of proximity.

We sit in the same office, work on the same project or are part of the same process. To the degree we need things from each other to get the job done, we’ll try to cooperate.

Working for each other is the language of connection.

We’re in this together. We want the best for each other. Where we are different, we seek to complement each other. Tough times strengthen our bond.

Working with each other is functional, professional and practical.

We can collaborate, innovate and accomplish all sorts of good things while more or less keeping our distance or simply tolerating one another.

But that’s not the same as working for each other.

Teams who work for each other operate on a completely different level.

They bring all the practical benefits of a team that works with each other and amplify that potential with deeper, more respectful and supportive relationships.

The strength bound in these diverse relationships releases more of the creative energy and shared potential of the team.

Do you remember being part of a team that was for each other?

No doubt some of the best experiences of our lives.

Many of our greatest human stories involve a group of people who worked through conflict and adversity to unite around a common cause and achieve what seemed impossible because they were deeply committed to one another.

Given recent events in the world, we could do with more of these stories.

So how does this transformation happen?

That’s the tricky part. You can’t process your way to this level of connection.

The leader’s role is to create an environment where a for-each-other team can evolve and demonstrate for-each-other behaviors that we can follow. So what does that look like?

Maybe it looks like a good story.

There’s something we want. Something worth pursuing. Something bigger than any one of us.

Someone or some experience causes us to see what is possible.

We look around and realize that if we’re going to get there we’re going to need each other. We’re going to have to trust each other.

We decide to connect. To let people in. To take some risks and be vulnerable.

We face adversity together. We overcome challenges. We learn about each other. With each setback and success, we grow.

We’re in a contact sport. Bouncing ideas, pulling apart, coming back together. Sharing the experience.

When it’s over, we’re grateful for the journey. The relationships we’ve built. The stories we share. Win or lose, we win.

There’s a new dimension to our experience. Another level. It feels like time well spent. The work is still the work but now it has a different meaning.

We’re changed. Inspired. We don’t want it to end.

Maybe the leader in this story is the instigator. The one who shapes our temporary, random encounter into something with far greater potential.

And this leader may not be the person with the title.

We’re all capable of initiating the change.

Bridging the gap between with each other and for each other.

Go start your story.


  1. Love this story Scott! You’re talking about community, the most powerful collaborative forum. I so agree, “And this leader may not be the person with the title.” Yes, because a true community is a group of all leaders, everyone free to offer ideas and opposition to them. 🙂

    Together we are stronger; we ARE all in this together. When will we finally get this message?


    1. Well said, Lori. Community is an untapped resource in many organizations. I love community because it contributes to better results and better lives.


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