Wanted Team Player: Leave Your Ego at Home

Top executives around the world agree egoism tops the list of reasons why team’s don’t work, according to the Study on Teams released by Egon Zehnder International, a global executive search firm. In fact, the study findings indicate that 71 percent of U.S. executives (59% overall) believe that egoism and hidden agendas on the part of individual team members are among the biggest obstacle to effective teamwork.

A total of 848 top executives from major corporations, small and medium-sized businesses in more 11 countries, including the U.S., Germany, UK, and India among others, were asked to examine the effectiveness of teams.

Not only do egos hinder a team’s performance, excessive focus on internal processes instead of on results was cited as the second biggest barrier to effective teamwork (43% in US). The third obstacle was poor definition of responsibilities (36% in US).

“Our findings confirm what many of us experience in different ways every day,” said Greig Schneider, co-leader of the Leadership Strategy Services practice, Egon Zehnder International. “Creating a high performance team is much more complicated than assembling a group of excellent individuals,” he added.

Additional highlights from the study include:

Corporate Rewards

Nearly two thirds (59%) of executives worldwide indicate that egoism/hidden agendas on the part of individual team members are the largest obstacle to effective teamwork. The number was the lowest in Norway (42%) and the highest in the U.S. (71%).

Almost half (41%) of respondents indicate that excessive focus on internal processes rather than on results is a key obstacle to achieving an effective team. This number was the highest in Italy (54%) and the lowest in the Netherlands (33%). In the U.S. 43 percent of respondents indicated this was an issue.

More than a third (34%) of all respondents indicate that a problem with decision making is a barrier to achieving a successful team. This number was the lowest in the U.S. (21%) and the highest in the Netherlands (58%).

Almost one third (29%) of executives worldwide said poor definition of the common goal was an obstacle to a successful team (34% in the U.S.) This number was the lowest in Switzerland (13%).

22% of overall respondents cite the inability of team members to handle conflict as a major obstacle to forming a team. The number was the highest in Australia (31%) and the lowest in Italy and Norway(10%).