The chemistry of team chemistry

Team chemistry.

A tough thing to get one’s head around.  That “thing” about a team that could either give them or make them a “wild card”.  It might be that you heard it lumped in with all those other sports clichés, like “work ethic”, and be described as an “intangible”.

But it remains a mystery.  That somewhat nebulous mixture that allows ordinary individuals to unite and achieve unparalleled excellence together.

I found this description posted on the web by Mr. Scott Williams, from Wright State University.  He  sought to define it in this manner:

“Team chemistry is the composition of a team and the relationships among team members.  Good team chemistry helps a team achieve its goals, and it results when (a) a team has members who possess the right competencies and (b) they work effectively together to achieve synergies. 

We most often notice that a team has poor chemistry when the members are talented but fail to work well together to make the most of their abilities.  For instance, team members failing to play roles that their teams need someone to play or engaging in unproductive conflict are examples of problems with team chemistry. “

Mr. Williams went on to add:

“At the risk of taking the “chemistry” metaphor too far, we can think of teams as having the following properties: elements (members), interactions (roles and norms), catalysts (leaders), energy (motivation), attraction (cohesiveness), and mass (size).  By examining these properties, we can identify a number of keys to good team chemistry.”

As Mr. Williams suggests, using the Chemistry 101 approach is a sound metaphor.  It is well suited to illustrate the essence of team chemistry.  While it provides a sound starting point, there is something more to this.  Something non-molecular within the phenomena of team chemistry that casts its influence on an entirely different level.

At its most basic level, there is but one essential, distinctive attribute  that can be the true game changer.  That “wild card”.  The “intangible”.

When it is allowed to work from, through and all around each one of those five properties – elements, interactions, catalysts, energy, attraction and mass – it can become the source of true team chemistry.

That “intangible”?



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