Hope for your financial life and beyond

The Best Definition of Teamwork You’ll Ever Read

Like all other sports enthusiasts, I am starved for athletic competition right now. In recent months, the spread of COVID-19 has disrupted sports around the world. I’ve always enjoyed playing and watching sports, mostly because it consistently reminds me of what it means to work as a team. That reminder points me back to perhaps the best definition of teamwork I’ve ever heard.

definition of teamworkIronically, the quote is not from someone related to sports. Rather he was a successful businessman turned philanthropist after he generated an incredible fortune in the steel industry. He believed that great wealth was a sacred trust and that the possessor of such wealth was bound to use it for the good of the community.

If you’ve guessed Andrew Carnegie, you’d be correct.

Being a successful businessman, Carnegie must have known something about leading teams. So it’s no surprise he came up with this definition of teamwork:

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

Why is this definition of teamwork so valuable? I can think of three reasons.

A Definition of Teamwork That Leads to Success

In this definition of teamwork, three distinct elements stand out. They are what drives teams and helps them achieve success. Teamwork is all about three things:

1. Working together. Successful teams have to work together. Members cannot slack off and refuse to pull their own weight. Each member of the team is no more important than any other.

Working together requires the will of all team members to be subject to the will of all the others. If one member stumbles or veers in the wrong direction, it affects the entire team. Like a precision flying team, they must not stray from the course to accomplish the mission.

2. Having a common vision. Speaking of mission, teams simply won’t accomplish what they want if they don’t have one. Some would call this having a vision. Vision is the ultimate end game that drives all results.

Teams won’t succeed if all the members of the team haven’t bought into the vision 100%. If the team can’t get behind the vision and stick to it, the team goals won’t be reached. At the very least, the results will suffer greatly.

Related Content: Making Vision Stick (Leadership Library)

3. Recognizing you are something bigger than yourself. Successful teams don’t shy away from the fact they are comprised of individuals. Each and every team member has their own unique individual talents, opinions and attitudes. Despite their individuality, the members of successful teams recognize they are part of something bigger than themselves.

They have successfully bought into the organizational objectives. They see their individual accomplishments as part of something much larger. Their personal fulfillment comes only when the team reaches their ultimate goal.

The Outcome for Teams

So what happens when teams function in this manner? In short, Carnegie believed the manifestation of these three elements moved the team to achieve. He likened it to fuel that propelled the team forward to accomplish results.

But not just any results – he called them uncommon results. Results above and beyond what they could comprehend. Results the individuals could not expect if they were trying to attempt something on their own.

That’s the beauty of teams and why this definition of teamwork is so special. Teams who work together, pursue a common vision and recognize they are part of something larger than themselves, are able to reach farther and achieve more than they ever thought possible. Who wouldn’t love being part of a team like that?

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: What other definition of teamwork that you’ve heard of stands out to you? What other things make teams work? What’s the best team you’ve ever been a part of? In what ways have you seen teams fail? 

Related Content: The Most Basic Thing I Never Understood About Leadership

Image courtesy of John ‘K’ at Flickr Creative Commons

Disclaimer: Luke1428.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I hope you enjoyed that post. Want more?
Sign up to receive my blog posts via email and get your free gift...
99 Ways to Spend Less and Save More

Privacy Guarantee: I will not share your email with anyone.


  1. I love the teamwork spirit. It is like something energizes every member of the team and lots of unimaginable creative ideas we thought we could never do are formed when done in team.

  2. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    Teamwork is just a better way to achieve something greater and bigger. I have been to many teams and I like the environment it presents and the spirit it offers. It’s like I can achieve more and grow more because of my team than working alone.

  3. I think this definition of teamwork is spot on. I have been on all kinds of team, terrible ones and high performance ones. Now that I’m responsible for leading a team, it really hits home. It is so true that you need to make sure everyone is working together. Even one person operating at 50% can drag everyone down! I also agree that a common vision is paramount. This is the most difficult part of leading a team to me. It is a challenge to get everyone rowing in the same direction.

    One item that I would add is that each member of the team needs to respect what the others are bringing to the table. If the respect isn’t there, it will be almost impossible to get anything done.

  4. LOVE this definition of teamwork. As someone who is a type-A gogetter, I admit that sometimes working on teams is a challenge because it feels easier to do it myself. But what I notice that when I’m on a team and participate, I feel better having a sense of community and togetherness than if I’d done it alone. Good life lessons in team work!

    • “…feels easier to do it myself.” Haha…I’ve been there too Natalie. I always fall for that trap when I see other dragging their feet and not getting the job done.

  5. I totally agree that teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision in order to reach a positive results! You need to work as a team and think as one.

Speak Your Mind