In Praise of Teamwork

I’ve had the pleasure of working with two fantastic teams over the course of two trimesters. These are not hierarchical teams but flat teams. I consider them co-operatives: no-one’s opinion is worth more than another, everyone’s voice is valued, and they are based on trust. 

A common view from a socially-distanced MBA

I’ve never worked on teams like these before. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut (or try to), and listen. I’ve learned to relinquish control. I’ve learned that leadership involves identifying where you can have the most impact, where you can help the team, and pursuing that. It’s not about ego and it’s not about control. It’s about what actions you can take that will have the best outcome for the group. Often that involves stepping back, recognising others’ talents and capabilities, knowing they are greater than your own. It involves stepping forward into the gaps as you see them appear. It’s about helping, and taking the initiative, and playing your part. It involves asking for help, identifying your own failings and being open about them. Having the strength to do that builds trust and camaraderie.

It’s not that I’ve done all of the above–but I’ve observed others doing it, and I’ve been impressed. I appreciate it, and I’m grateful. I feel a depth of gratitude and loyalty to all I’ve worked with so far. Without a doubt, the experience of working with these teams, these people, is what will last longest from this MBA. That’s the transformative experience. Thinking back on this year, that’s what I will remember most. So thank you Jess, Naman, Nate, Caitlin, Sumit and Andrew! We’ve been through the trenches together. 

It’s been a challenging year. As I’ve considered it, in some respects it’s been about resilience. The MBA has developed this resilience, and a confidence to step into the unknown, to know it’s possible to reach out to those in the know, ask for help, and to learn. These are skills on their own and need to be developed. As such, I’ll leave the MBA ready for what comes next.

My desire to learn has grown over the course of the year. I’ve learned a little bit about everything in the MBA, and seen how it all ties back together to one whole. As such it’s been a fascinating journey and has inspired further thought. Learning has developed into a habit, one I wish to continue. It’s now a key focus in my search for my next role. I want it to be a learning one.

So with that in mind, to close, I’ll take the opportunity to say thank you to all my classmates, lecturers and coaches for the education. 

John O’Sullivan, FTMBA Class of 2021