unifying employees through the power of teamwork

By in Leadership, Talent Management, and Teams
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From Michael Jordan’s inspiring words, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships,” to Andrew Carnegie’s description of what makes a motivational workplace, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision,” quotes about teamwork are a useful tool to engage employees and create receptive office environments. These circumstances are a key part of inspiring great work.

With so many excellent guests on our Great Work Insights podcasts over the years, we wanted to get their thoughts on teamwork within a business context. Spoken by CEOs, managers, and entrepreneurs, the eight teamwork quotes below come directly from the front lines.


“The goal of all great organizations should be to create ‘One Team’ – everyone focused on the fulfillment of the organization’s purpose. Despite the concept’s simplicity and constant corporate lip service, such a reality remains elusive for many organizations. Not because they don’t get the idea, but because they continue to reward and reinforce behaviors that create silos. To truly create a ‘one team/organization’ environment, companies must ensure that everyone knows and believes in the organization’s purpose and are aligned with fulfilling it. This alignment includes compensation and bonus schemes, reward and recognition systems, organizational structures, job descriptions, performance management, and your physical workspace. If employees are choosing actions that will benefit them or their team/division over the larger organization, a cultural mind shift is needed.”  – Louis Efron, CEO at Purpose Meets Execution


“What you intentionally tolerate you unintentionally condone. If you allow some members of your team—and it will usually be individual high-performers—to opt out of team participation and  contribution, you undermine the success of your team.

It is easy to be swayed by the benefits of high performance and overlook the negative impact on the team caused by the proverbial ‘lone ranger.’ He or she demonstrates that team participation isn’t a requirement, but just the leader’s wishful thinking. This person often detracts from team morale, is unwilling to help those that need it and shows a disregard for being part of the larger group. John Wooden once said he didn’t want the best players on his team, but rather the players that made his team best. He knew that outsized talent possessed by a few was no guarantee of team success. Make sure everyone on your team knows that collaboration is an expectation and requirement.”  – Mark Sanborn, President at Sanborn and Associates


“The single most powerful thing a team of people can do is build a common culture. A shared set of values—not the fluffy kind—but the really gritty kind, can challenge and push people beyond what they previously thought possible. A group of people united under a shared vision and a common culture is one of the most powerful forces in the world. Leveraging the collective ideas of a team to not only build that culture but to keep those that don’t align out is the real measure of an effective team. Having someone on the team that does not align is like a cancer that spreads out of control. A strong team of people can keep the cancer out, keep an organization healthy, and push it to thrive under even the harshest of circumstances.” – Courtney Klein, Co-Founder & CEO of SEED SPOT and SEED SPOT NEXT


“Without a team our time and efforts are limited. But our team does more than set us free, our team makes possible unlimited service. As a Clients First company, we measure everything we do by the three keys of Honesty, Competence, and Care. By applying the three keys we know that each client is best served. They can trust what our team says, they can rely on our work and they know we care about them.

Each teammate must trust the truth. Knowing that they can rely on each other to be honest, they know that the team is honest and the client is best served. Competence is paramount and the primary reason for breaking process into parts which can be mastered with a zero tolerance for errors. Care is magnified and reinforced within a team. The result is a client’s first experience.” – Joseph Callaway, Owner of Those Callaways


“I don’t even like to call those who work for me, ‘employees.’ I call them co-workers or teammates because I want to create an environment of collaboration where everyone looks out for one another. Having played sports growing up and through college, I learned that we can all be successful and not all be the same. I learned that we may not groove with someone’s personality, yet if there is a strong team culture, it bridges the gap between conflict and harmony.

Part of our core values that we post on our website and we share with everyone on the very first interview, include the importance of our team. I know that I can move fast and don’t always stop to explain new projects as thoroughly as I could. A few years ago, I came barreling into the office and I inadvertently offended one of my teammates. Another teammate saw it and instead of throwing gasoline on the fire by ramping up my mistake and talking about what a jerk I am, she texted me what happened and suggested a quick call from me could smooth things over. I was greatly appreciative, called the first teammate, apologized and listened to her concerns. We moved on to our next project and went home that night without the stress and worry of a situation that didn’t need to be a big deal, and because of our team culture, it wasn’t.” – Sarah Petty, founder of Joy of Marketing and New York Times Bestselling Author of Worth Every Penny


“People who talk about teamwork as if it’s an important part of business are missing the point entirely. Teamwork is not a ‘part’ or business. Teamwork is the business and the business is the team. So without teamwork you have no business.” – Rory Vaden, Cofounder of Southwestern Consulting, New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs


“Trust is the one thing that changes everything—in teams, in organizations, and in life. Without trust, at best, we might have a group of people working together.  But it’s hard to be a real team without trust. In fact, it’s trust that turns a group of people into a team. 

Likewise, it’s hard to collaborate with people you don’t trust. You can coordinate with people you don’t trust but there’s a big difference between mere coordination and true collaboration. Indeed, it’s trust that turns coordination into creative and sustainable collaboration. 

Similarly, it’s hard to be partners with people you don’t trust. It’s trust that turns a vendor or a supplier into a true partner. It’s trust that turns a salesperson into a trusted advisor. Indeed, trust is transformative to the very relationship. Without trust, we’re often better off working solo for it is trust that makes our teams—and world—go ’round!” – Stephen M. R. Covey, The New York Times and # 1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Speed of Trust and coauthor of Smart Trust; also co-founder and Global Practice Leader of FranklinCovey’s Trust Practice


“I have thought about this for a long time. First, I think a leader needs to be him or herself. Authentic leadership is a great place to start; do not try to be anything other than yourself. Second, the qualities of service, care, love, humility and stewardship are key traits that result in servant leadership. Care and love are traits not used often enough when describing leadership, but are necessary to build a culture of trust and respect. It is so important to demonstrate that everyone matters. Finally, stewardship and humility comes into play, as a leader is never bigger than the organization and the team itself. The leader’s job is to help move the team forward and improve it while training their replacement.” – Randy Gibb, Dean at Colangelo College of Business at Grand Canyon University

Remember, great work requires unified employees. Keep these powerful teamwork quotes, tips and suggestions in mind as you build a motivational and positive environment and culture in your workplace.

By o.c. tanner
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