The Corruption of True Teamwork

Is our society operating on corrupted versions of true teamwork?

Our global society works through teams and there are many situations in life where we need to be part of a team. Families may see themselves as a team; corporations call upon their employees to contribute to and do their part for the team; we value working together as a team and most of us will have experienced a sense of satisfaction whenever a team pulls together to address a crisis – such as in a widespread disaster – or to collaborate to produce something. This can be anything from a newsletter to a product to sales figures or, indeed, to any outcome.

Then there are the sporting teams that many of us affiliate with, sponsor and barrack for. This type of team highlights that there remains within many concepts of teamwork the reality of individualism and self-gain. In the sporting arena, we are adversarial with all teams other than our own and the aim of the game is to defeat all the other teams and secure personal glory for our own, often at any cost. The many recently publicised doping scandals, ball tampering scandals and other unscrupulous practices attest to this. This type of team indicates that our concept of teamwork is accompanied by a slightly larger version of ‘self,’ where self is extended to include those who support the same team to the rejection of those who don’t – at times to the point of denigration and violence.

Hence, our teams are based on competition and winning and the teamwork and cooperation that occurs does so only in the context of one’s own team. In other words, our teams are actually highly exclusive.

Nor is this exclusivity limited to sporting teams. In business, there is fierce competition to secure a large percentage of the market share for the products that each corporate team produces and there is huge competition among brands – even when the brands are produced by different arms of the one same parent company! Such rivalry can be often observed in siblings in the same family and there is even a body of psychological literature on this ubiquitous phenomenon, which ironically, is seen as normal (1). This belief-based normality is often encouraged and validated in schools, both by the allocating of children to differing sporting houses, by encouraging the participation in competitive sport both at school and then between schools, as well as by having academically competing teams in the classroom.

The latter phenomenon – working in groups or teams in class – is seen as a ‘good thing’ as children can share their expertise and knowledge with each other. However, there can still be an edge to these situations and students continue to want to know which team effort was the best and whose information was right and whose was wrong. This reveals another aspect of what we have taken on as teamwork, namely a continuum of competence and value that extends from the best to the worst, with all shades in between the two extremes.

Is it possible that for some of us there is a comfort in allocating oneself a position on this line, even if one’s position is at the ‘lower’ end? After all, as the saying goes, we at least know where we stand. When it comes to teams (and groups), anything that differentiates and distinguishes us from other teams (groups), anything that individualises and identifies us, we’re there – in it up to our necks. These distinctions can take many forms, including income level, brand of car, footy team, type of school, where we like to holiday, all the way down to what we like to eat and when, the clothing that we wear and the country in which we live. There are ‘people like us,’ and then there are…. the rest, everyone else.

As I’ve witnessed in many other social contexts – even the good or positive teams have the propensity to demonstrate the same qualities of the ‘all about me’ focus, equally as much as the more overtly competitive teams.

This brief set of observations reveals some of the characteristics we have accepted and normalised as being characteristics of a team: individualism, self-gain, adversarial nature, exclusivity, competition, rivalry, notions of right and wrong, the best and the least, winners and losers.

Looked at in this way, has our current model of team and teamwork been corrupted and so are we working with a model that is fundamentally flawed from the outset and hence must always be limiting in its scope and activity?

Is it time for us to begin the process of re-defining and conceptualising what is a true team and if so, what will be the foundational concepts?

Working from the notion that we often perceive the teams we literally identify with as an extended (or even inflated) version of our ‘self,’ could the very notion of self be a root flaw in the activity of the term ‘team’ so that if we have a team of individual selves, we do not truly have a team? Is there a deeper truth on offer within the phrase “There is no ‘i’ in team”?

One version of this phrase has historically indicated that the individual’s interests must be sacrificed for the sake of the team, often bringing a sense of doing the right thing and even overriding what one feels within themselves. There is a sense that many selves are suppressed in order that one individual attains a form of glory. This glory then becomes an aspirational goal for the multiple other selves under the belief that ‘every dog will have its day.’

However, there does exist a very real possibility of situations where one’s true self is naturally enhanced in the awareness that, energetically, there is an underlying One-ness to us all. This view requires a paradigm shift to acknowledging that everything that we do is felt by, and contributes to, the all that we are all a part of, as well as a huge connection with the true depth of our personal and collective responsibility to this whole. Saying yes to this level of awareness and responsibility connects us with the interdependence that exists well beyond any individual teams to profound levels of mutuality and Brotherhood and to vast reservoirs of respect and care not witnessed under the corrupted, historical paradigm.

Parenting is one such example of this. The current model locates us in isolated families where Mum and Dad parent their children, perhaps at times backed up by grandparents and other relatives. An alternative and considerably more expansive model of parenting offers how every adult who enters a child’s field of experience is potentially a parent to the child; that every adult is aware of this and brings the same level of care and responsibility as do the parents, in the knowing that everything they do or express reflects certain qualities to the child for good or ill. This awareness also extends to adults who never physically see the child but who construct or market products that the child will ultimately utilise or consume. If a company manufactures beds and another bedding, do each of those companies consider that the quality in which they manufacture their goods and services, the relationships among their staff, their motivation for business, ALL bring a reflection of quality to children who use what they sell or make? This makes for a very broad understanding of Team and the true responsibility that goes with this.

Additionally, this latter situation would place parents in the position of needing to discern the prevailing energy of products and services that they buy. Refusing to buy goods that have been manufactured on the basis of greed for example, are then revealed and wiser, more supportive choices become possible. In this way, our collective, broader team becomes wiser too, as we all start to call out energies like greed or self-gain, which are actually inimical to us all.

In the face of such awareness, one can most assuredly state that our current and historical models of team and teamwork are indeed corrupt insofar as they serve only the immediate self-interest of a narrow group, disregarding the whole of which we are part. Working with the whole serves all of us and opens us up to deeper aspects of ourselves that we have long since forgotten or ignored. These aspects actually support us to connect with our true Self, our Soul.

This awareness of our true ‘team’ – humanity – then invites a true and purposeful way of interacting in our more localised and personal smaller teams: it is no longer just about ‘me and mine’ but about the relationship of ‘me and mine’ to our global family. This can all occur with a relatively simple shift in awareness that the ‘I’ lives within an inextricably interdependent whole that it will one day surrender itself back into. Then what is required is to move in a loving and caring manner, knowing that our every movement reflects this quality to everyone else, giving them permission to do and be likewise. In this model, we are none of us a ‘dog’ waiting for ‘its day.’ Every day is our day and can be lived as a beautiful confirmation and expansion of the loving qualities that are part of us all.

The most challenging part of this process is perhaps, the honest admission that long ago we ditched this true model and way of being for a series of increasingly corrupt and dehumanising alternatives in order to entrench the reality of individualism. Now it falls to us all to reclaim these true ways of being from the corrupted versions we have all complicitly created.

By Coleen


  1. Melbourne Child Psychology & School Psychology Services, P. (2019). How to Reduce Sibling Rivalry. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Oct. 2018]

Related Reading:
Corporate Social Responsibility – How could our working world be?
Corruption at work – what is it?
Human nature and our schooling – examining the purpose of education

192 thoughts on “The Corruption of True Teamwork

  1. It seems to me that the very foundations of our current way of living is flawed, nothing has truly worked we keep patching and covering up the cracks in our society but when the foundations are corrupt then whatever has been built on that foundation will not flourish. And let’s be honest with ourselves we are not living in a society that is flourishing quite the opposite the majority of the human population is suffering from ill health. This speaks volumes in itself about our way of life.

  2. Growing up is just one long competition starting in earnest when we start school! Spelling bees that go to national levels. Have you ever played a musical instrument? There are seats 1st, 2nd etc. for every instrument, that there are playoffs to challenge the person above you. Sports can be individual but even team sports have a captain. No one ever remembers who came in second but the Valedictorian will include it on their CV for years as a badge. The corruption of true brotherhood starts young. There is a reason that the military’s around the world have always recruited the young. They can be moulded to do things that would morally be objectionable to older people.

  3. Thanks Coleen, and may I add the idiom ‘that all is fair in love and war’ as it seems to fit into the ‘take advantage at any cost’ attitude and has a huge chunk of individuality in it, the same as what you have shared. When we witness our children at play there are none of the outrageous behaviours of individuality until they come to learn all the traits we have shared, thus could the answer be in the parenting and teachers who champion the ‘I’ above all else? The brotherhood we witness in the youth who have not been tainted by our team building systems are still connected to their Essences, Inner-most-hearts, Souls and are Esoteric by nature and have no idea about the corrupted version of brotherhood and team work.

  4. ‘Us and them’ is so easy to go into doesn’t matter where or in what context we use it, we find it in every aspect of our society. Everyone contributes to this way of living and like you’ve mentioned, we find it normal.
    It is only by becoming more aware we can see through the falseness and can choose bringing truth in the corrupted versions of teamwork.

    1. We try and take the ‘us and the them’ out of the only One but the truth is we can’t, we can only think that we have but we haven’t, the one interconnected mass of God can’t be separated or segregated, not ever.

  5. I hate the fact that we have made life about security and money that money buys security. When this is used as a model to drive a sales force then life does become dog eat dog to win the most sales to obtain the greatest wealth and be championed as the top dog. But what does being the ‘top dog’ mean? That something was sold that wasn’t needed, that other people were trampled on and over including the customer to get to that top spot. Is that really how we want to treat each other ? When I feel this in my body I feel disgusted that we can allow financial gain to squash all levels of decency and respect for each other. And yet we have allowed this to become a ‘normal’ part of our life.

  6. True relationships offer us so much and when we add a new born into this relationship we get a deeper reflection that allows us to feel what we all can bring.
    As everything matters even what we are watching on the screens we have available these days are we open to feel what is being presented? Even a new born gets effected by what is on a screen / TV and lets us know by the way it cries incessantly. Have we ever considered this as an ongoing effect on our relationships, and also as what takes a baby out from being naturally connected, and is this also having the same effect on us, and is it simply played down by us so we can get on with what we are calling so called normal as we are being distracted from our Essences, Inner-most / Souls.
    Having this inbuilt radar born into the family do we take advantage of this and learn from what these babies react to or do we use our so called intelligence and over-ride what the baby is sharing and not feeling into the energy it is reacting to and calling it for what it is?

  7. When we simply do what is needed and think not of the me factor, then we are being part of the team. Like ants hard at work that do not stop to ask their brothers if they are doing a good job, because they do not need to as they know they are doing an amazing job. We have much to learn from the reflections in nature.

  8. One person can speak and when they speak they can be the voice for many. This is a blessing when we allow an expression to come from our hearts and don’t hold back on what we know to be true for one and all.

  9. It takes a community to raise a child, to look after an elderly parent, to support a marital relationship to stay harmonious etc etc. We cannot underestimate the power of a truly loving community.

  10. With true teamwork and from my observations of doing workshops in school with classes of young people I think we could strip it right back to when one person is talking to just listen to them as it seems that many find even this really hard to do.

  11. Iceland has the oldest surviving parliament in the world, called the Althing. Their foundation was that no man was greater than another and was chaired by elders to fairly support everyone. This was brotherhood that had no need for competition. We have a history of unfettered teamwork that works and then we try and improve it.

  12. The world of politics is a clear example of where the individualism of ‘teams’ causes conflict and disharmony instead of working together for the benefit of all.

    1. Great example Mary and sadly this same scenario often plays out in our own homes. And so it is that how we are each of us in our relationships is what then feeds or does not feed the disharmony around. What is so beautiful though is, as you have said, when everyone comes to work together, then mountains can be moved with ease.

    2. Absoulutely Mary, and we need look no further than Robin Hood (2018), produced by Otto Bathurst to understand the corruption that our political leaders will go to for the feathering of there own nest.

  13. Asking ourselves honest questions can help us work out where we stand. Do we listen to another until we calculate what we are going to say, then wait patiently for a gap to then speak, ignoring the other until such time? Or do we listen to what they have to share in full? the words and the energy behind it? This is but one example of, are our intentions to work with another, or to get our part heard?

  14. We have been conditioned, that no one ever remembers who came in second, so, not winning is a fail. True teamwork could be a skyscraper or a few people shovelling snow from a driveway. Both are something that required an outcome and a purpose that was not based on individuality.

    1. Agreed Steve, and if we look at nature, Ants work together with great outcome and a purpose that requires everyone working together, so maybe we could learn from what is working in nature?

  15. Is it possible that the set up for individuality was when the etheric spirit made a shell/body that it could then incarnate into and have control of? Just suppose for a moment that we are being controlled by an etheric spirit that wants to keep us as individuals and therefore in constant separation to each other because should we get together and support each other we would work out a way to get out of this mess we call creation and evolve back beyond our entry point and go back to where we all originally come from. In a way we have been kept dumb so that we have forgotten on one level the truth of who we are and where we come from. To the point that if someone says this is a possibility they are ridiculed as being off their heads.

  16. Great to re-read your blog Coleen. “….. our teams are based on competition and winning and the teamwork and cooperation that occurs does so only in the context of one’s own team. In other words, our teams are actually highly exclusive.” So true – the us or them mentality. When we learn to cooperate rather than compete, the world will change to one of equality and brotherhood.

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