Tag Archives: Andrew Carnegie

Linguistic Acrobatics

Linguistic Acrobatics

There is no “I” in Team….but we can find “me”

There is no “I” in team.  To have a team you have to have multiple “I”s to make it all work.  A team by definition is more than one. So, there is no “I” but we do find a ME. Let’s look at the multiples of ME that contribute to task and process of the team.

Let’s back up…

I am guessing that most have heard the saying,  “There is no ‘I” in team.”  This is a true statement of fact.  We can buy posters that say this for the office, locker room, and other gathering places.  I guess this overused phrase reminds us of the importance of working together. Perhaps it is a caution against being self-centered.  I agree that working together is teamwork.  The origin of the word TEAM is from the Old English about “animals being yoked together” to pull or drag something.  But, I am getting off the subject here.  There is no “I” in team.


Let’s look at the word T–E–A–M, and we can find the “ME.”  It takes some spelling acrobatics to manipulate the letters to form the word, Me.   But, after the obvious statement that we can’t find an “I” in team the letter shuffle is least of our worries. Who is the me in a team?  By definition the team has to consist of more than ONE (which coincidentally is the Roman Numeral I).  This concept of ME in a team considers a grouping of individuals (which does have an “I” by the way) to accomplish the work of the team.  In fact one of those posters we can hang in the office also suggests that T-E-A-M  is an acronym for Together Everyone Accomplishes More.  Without the collaboration in a group (perhaps even a Team) of MEs they couldn’t accomplish the work.  This synergy of working together requires the combination of strengths, talents, and gifts that combines to create a critical mass of energy to complete THE work.  The metaphor of 1+1=3 catches our attention due to the improper math equation. At the same time, it illustrates that my work with your work can create a greater sum of work than just what each of us can accomplish on our own.

Abilities of Me

The power and ability to do or act is increased through the collaboration of the many that are working for a common purpose.  Through Transformational leadership we know that at times Me #1 has a strength or talent that will come to the forefront, while the others assume a supporting role.  At other times Me #X will possess a new talent or skill that could be used by the team for the common goal of the group.  Andrew Carnegie
said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. [It is] the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

An individual can have leadership qualities.  We can recognize a leader among people as a quality of personhood, or through their actions.  But, that recognition comes from someone…or even a group of someones.  I submit that generally this comes from a group, an office, an organization, a team of some sort.  The group in some manner probably shares the role of leader.  This will happen through sequential rotation through an office.  It can happen through shared leadership, or a network of leaders.  It can happen through delegation.

In short, there is no “I” in team, there has to be a bunch of “I”s in there to make it all work.  Do the acrobatics.  See the multiples of ME that contribute to task and process of the team.

When did you know that you were a leader?  Was it related somehow to a group or working with a bunch of other leaders?

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