Effective teamwork and leadership have become a key competence required for many positions in today’s business environment.  But they can sometimes be overlooked and put on the back seat when considering an individual’s skills.  Last week I referred to the importance of teamwork as one of the soft skills required in today’s working world (https://bit.ly/36VpDLc).  Yet, measuring teamwork as a business competency across an industry is difficult as individuals can bring different skills and therefore it is equally difficult to assume teamwork alone can always lead to success.

I read an interesting article about a visionary, Zuahl Sultan, and her quest in 2008 to start a national youth orchestra in Iraq (https://bit.ly/3iDqLZh).  You would think that one of the first starting points would be to find and recruit the best youth musicians in the country, however due to the lack of educated musicians in Iraq as well as the already established orchestras around the world, she had a major hurdle to overcome.  With various other challenges such as the lack of equipment, maintenance/upkeep of instruments and geographical barriers in travel to perform.  Zuahl contacted a Scottish conductor, Paul MacAlindin who agreed to go on the journey with her.  Instead of competing with the existing elite performers, they decided to focus on what they knew the musicians were good at.  Traditional, Iraqi folk music.  The end result was that between 2008 and 2013 the orchestra had achieved international fame.  This orchestra shows that playing to your strengths can result in international acclaim.  Teamwork was vital for success over skill and realising their USP.

You could argue that a team of highly skilled people, with a clear goal will achieve success.  We all know however that this is not always the case.  Taking the recent European football championships as an example, the standout favourites to win the tournament at the beginning (according to bookmakers and pundits), was France.  However, they did not achieve the grandeur that was expected, even though the team had some of the best talent in the tournament.

When changing jobs and interviewing with a panel, behavioural competency questions will be asked, and they will not only reflect an individuals technical skills but also the ability to integrate with the wider team and possibly lead.

Teamwork and individual performance have a part to play in the search and selection process.  A concern that candidates have when going for an interview is answering competency questions, which are designed to test an individual’s ability to perform certain tasks.  Some have a perception that competency questions are difficult to answer and can be the difference between being successful at interview or not.  The balance between what “I” did versus “the team” is challenging.  Quantifying an individual’s influence on an outcome is difficult, especially when you are only getting one account of an event. 

The success of the youth symphony orchestra in Iraq was due to not just teamwork but strong leadership and some innovative solutions to problems.  Travel for the orchestra to come together was a logistical nightmare so they used online platforms such Skype (given that this was 2008 it was pretty revolutionary).  The creation of a culture of empowerment and inclusion resulted in Sunni, Shia, Kurdish, Arab, Turkomen, Assyrian and Armenian musicians being welcomed into the orchestra which in itself united divides of the country.  Thus these two ingredients of teamwork and leadership were vital for success.

Fundamentally, leadership and teamwork are all important in the running of a successful team or business.  Being able to highlight these skills and offer strong examples of experience in these areas can lead to successful careers which in turn will result in successful performance of a business and competitively a culture of strong teamwork and leadership.  These factors, given the right culture, will result in resilience which in turn will drive productivity, engagement and ultimately triumph which is even more crucial as we go into a period of change over the next few months!

If you are interested in speaking to Able Bridge Recruitment about this article or would like to have a general discussion about recruitment in general, we would be delighted to hear from you.  We can be contacted on either 0131 202 3215/0141 739 7080 or e-mail joe.savidge@ablebridge.co.uk

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