Teambuilding

by on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 Comments

We quite spontaneously equate “teambuilding” with “leadership.”  This might be a misperception. In the teambuilding process each team member is a team builder, and nothing can be achieved without the active participation of all people involved.  Both team spirit and the fruits of the project on which the team works belong to all those who participated in it.  You may say that in every collective project there are two things created at the same time: the work that is accomplished (a rocket, a magazine, a building, a new medication…) and the team that has produced the work.

However, it is true that, in every team, there are people whose specific service is to ensure the cohesion and wellbeing of the team as a human group. This is a service like another one, as can be the one of cooking, doing accounting or conducting research. Team builders are “leaders’ only in the sense that they empower each and every member to be one of the team builders, that they intuit where the difficulties come from, and invent ways to heal the body divided against itself when conflicts and misunderstandings occur.

The New Testament offers to us two figures of great team builders: Jesus and Paul.  Jesus did not create an “institution”, he shaped the men and women who were following him. But he shaped them as part of a living community. During his final march towards Jerusalem he was leading a group of disciples bitterly divided among themselves. They were quarrelling over who was the greatest among them. Dissensions linked to differences in background, political opinions and appreciation of the situation were obviously growing. During the Last Supper, Jesus shares the bread and the chalice with people who seem to feel confused, angry and bitter.

They will eventually unite, first around the absence of Jesus and then – decisively – around the Risen One. The Acts of the Apostles tell us how they creatively start to build a community with others, in the recollection of the example of teambuilding that Jesus gave them. Paul will continue such work, building local churches and exhorting them, often with tears, to conduct themselves in justice and charity, and to renounce everything that causes divisions.

May we likewise overcome our ego and its limitations, so as to all become the “living stones’ of the teams we work in, and – looking even farther – of an ever-growing human community.

Photo by B.V.

Benoit Vermander (魏明德)

Benoit Vermander lives in Shanghai. He teaches philosophy and religious anthropology at the University of Fudan.

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