GMAT : Analysis of An Issue

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An Issue

36. Businesses and other organizations have overemphasized the importance of working as a team. Clearly, in any human group, it is the strong individual the person with the most commitment and energy who gets things done.


Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/ or examples from your own experience, observations or reading.


The relationship between teamwork and individual strength, energy and commitment is complex. Whether they operate in a complementary or antagonistic manner depends on :

(1) The goals toward which the traits are directed

(2) The degree of emphasis on teamwork

(3) The job of the individual within an organization

A person's ability to work effectively in a team is not inconsistent per se with personal strength, energy and commitment. If exercised in a self-serving manner - for example through pilfering or back stabbing - these traits can operate against the organization. Conversely, if directed toward the firm's goals, these traits can motivate other team members, thereby advancing common goals. World War II generals Patton and Rommel understood this point and knew how to bring out the best individual qualities in their troops while at the same time instilling a strong sense of team and common purpose.

Nevertheless, overemphasizing teamwork can be counterproductive for an organization. A successful team requires both natural leaders and natural followers. Otherwise, a team will accomplish little. Undue emphasis on teamwork may quell initiative among natural leaders, thereby thwarting team goals. Also, teamwork can be overemphasized with a commissioned sales force of highly competitive and autonomic individuals. Overemphasis on teamwork here might stifle healthy competition, thereby defeating a firm's objectives. In other organizational areas, however, teamwork is critical. For example, a product-development team must progress in lock-step fashion toward common goals, such as meeting a roll out deadline.

In sum, individual strength, commitment and energy can complement a strong team approach. As long as individual autonomy is not undermined all can operate in a synergistic manner to achieve an organization’s goals.

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