Extraordinary Team Blog

Do Some People Have the Team Gene?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on September 29, 2010

Why is it that some people are great team players and others…are not?

Is teamwork genetic or is it a skill that is learned over time?  True, some of our teaming skills come from disciplined education and training, but most of our habits come from day-to-day interactions we have with our team mates.  Unfortunately, many of us learn and reinforce bad team habits – simply because we don’t know any better!

If you have ever been on a truly high performance team, then you know what it takes to succeed: achieving the desired results using a smooth process while maintaining collaborative relationships.  And you bring those ground rules with you to all other teams, infusing solid team skills along the way, so that ALL teams can be a high performing team.  It’s a compounding effect – much like microwaving popcorn.  One kernel pops, then another, and other until you have a full bag of popcorn!

So is it about nurture or nature? I think there is a minuscule segment of the population that are truly non-team players.  The Unabomber was one (NOT that I am suggesting that non-team players are inherently evil, but he happens to be the most famous – and there really aren’t too many non-famous people who are genetically hard-wired to be non-team players).  Yes, it does take some effort, and if you choose not to make that effort, does that mean you are NOT genetically predisposed to teamwork?  Hmmm….that sounds like a cop-out to me.