Teams? Small Groups? What’s the difference?

With next week’s release of my second book, Embracing Followership: A Discussion Guide for Teams & Small Groups, it seems fitting that we explore a few definitions.

A book for teams and small groups? What’s the difference? Am I just repeating myself?

A group could be any collection of people, though often we would expect that there is some common identity or general purpose that creates at least a loose thread of belonging, things which determine who is in the group and who is not. While likely engaged in different tasks and operating in different spheres, members of a group have some affiliation with one another as part of a larger association or interest.

A group of reporters all share the same occupation, and a similar aim, but are usually in competition (rather than cooperation) with one another. A group of photography enthusiasts (a club) share a common interest, but likely don’t work closely together or operate in the same spheres of task relationships. A group of neighbors share the commonality of living in proximity to one another, but other than issues relating to their specific neighborhood, are not likely joined together by anything more than neighborly friendliness. A group of church-goers may all see one another on Sunday mornings, but otherwise have different occupations, friendship circles, etc., united by their attendance at organized activities and their faith.

How does a team differ from such relatively loose collections of human beings?

A team is a special kind of group. Rather than just a loose sense of unifying identity, a team also shares a common aim, a goal (perhaps more than one), which requires collaboration and interdependence. Ideally, they will have complementary skills and be accountable to one another for their performance as they pursue fulfillment of their objectives. And, they may only exist for a certain amount of time (until their task is accomplished or purpose fulfilled).

So a sports team lasts for a season, and works together to score points and win games, relying on each other’s performance to achieve success. A workplace project team brings together specialists in various areas (operations, strategy, human resources, etc.) in order to plan, implement, and complete a job. Our town’s volunteer events committee works together to create, advertise, and execute municipal craft fairs and Christmas parades.

discussion guide spreadBy saying that this new companion volume is a discussion guide for both teams and small groups, what’s on offer is an opportunity for various gatherings of people to come together to challenge and encourage one another to follow with excellence. Whether you join with intimate colleagues (a team), or friends in your neighborhood or book club (a group), there is an opportunity to explore what it means to contribute your very best and to fully embrace your followership.

If you’re with a team, then the exploration of application can get very specific as you dialogue with those who well understand your circumstances and opportunities, as well as what’s needed. If you’re with a small group comprised of those that you’re not necessarily co-laboring with, then you benefit from fresh and encouraging perspectives from those that don’t necessarily have their own vested interest or agendas to pursue.

In either case, the important idea is that while you are ultimately responsible for your individual journey, you will greatly benefit by engaging with others as you develop the quality and intentionality of your followership.

So whether you are looking ahead at 2018 and anticipating working closely with a team of colleagues, or perhaps planning to participate in a book club, mentoring/coaching relationship, or meeting regularly with a group of friends or fellow congregants, the forthcoming companion volume (available Dec 19th) will be an additional resource to fuel your followership and encourage your excellence!


For encouragement and guidance in understanding and applying yourself to following and leading with excellence and helping others to do the same, see:


Followership Guide coverEmbracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture (by Allen Hamlin Jr; Feb 2016), and  A Discussion Guide for Teams & Small Groups (Dec 2017).

Links to other posts on this site: Blog Post Index

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