Teamwork and Mutual Dependency in the Military

Mutual dependency and teamwork are the lifeblood of a cohesive unit.

The militaries of Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada demonstrate the importance of mutual dependency and teamwork.

Mutual dependency and teamwork are the lifeblood of a cohesive unit. We’ve discussed in earlier posts how fire departments are made stronger by teamwork, and how forestry crews throughout North America and New Zealand can increase their safety through mutual dependency. The same principles that exist for these stressful environments are at play in the military. In a profession based largely on the realty of life or death, never has it been more important to emphasize teamwork and mutual dependency as in the military. Fortunately, unlike many other organizations out there, the military focuses on the importance of the team from very early on in basic training.

Teamwork – a fundamental lesson in the military

From day one of basic training – whether you’re in North America, New Zealand or Australia, recruits are taught that they are a member of a unit. What’s understood is that it doesn’t matter who crosses the finish line first; it doesn’t matter who crosses last. What matters is that every member of your unit is committed to only one outcome: that everyone crosses that finish line. By establishing this training early on, the military is able to successfully reinforce the importance of teamwork. This results in the reality that each and every member of your unit is responsible for one another. One soldier might not like another, but those feelings are put aside for duty. This is a lesson that can be transferred over to any high-stress environment, from firefighters to police departments and yes, even to the office setting.

Why teamwork in the military matters

Military men and women encounter situations and scenarios that most of us cannot even dream of. While the natural human instinct is to flee from danger and to protect oneself, members of the military must do the opposite. They must run toward the danger, and protect others, while exposing themselves to added risks. When doing that, it’s quite common for the human mind to lose focus. It’s common for a person to become so overly stressed, frightened and jarred that they forget their mission, purpose and direction. But doing so in the military could cost the lives of many. That’s where teamwork comes into play. At any give moment on the battlefield, any man and woman in uniform knows that he or she is supported by their unit. This type of support and camaraderie does two things:

  1. It provides the soldier a sense of security and understanding that they’re not alone out there.
  2. It also gives the solider the reality check that he or she is equally responsible for others on the field. It’s not just about themselves, it’s about the team.

This type of mentality and training has equated into success for militaries throughout the world. When employed domestically, equal success has been realized. Fire and police academies follow a similar idea as the military’s basic training. Aside from learning the ropes of the job, cadets are taught the importance of team. However, often times it seems as though the military is the most successful in continuing to reinforce the team mentality long after training is over. Why is that?

In true life or death, there are fewer options

Firefighters, forestry workers, and police officers put their lives at risk every day. However, this risk for death or injury seems even more heightened for military men and women. As such, it’s easier for soldiers to latch on to teamwork, at the expense of individuality. Most times, military men and women are away from home for months or years at a time, thus are able to turn on that “soldier” switch on the battlefield with a greater ease. Forestry workers, police officers and firefighters have lives that are a bit more blurry. They have their work life, then home life. Thus it’s easier for them to blur these lives into one, which often times results in the sacrifice of the “team” for the benefit of the individual. How, then, can non-military men and women – who still put their lives on the line daily – maintain their at-home individuality without sacrificing the notion of “team” at work?

Basic training that works for the real world

One of the ways that domestic training programs (such as those for firefighters, police offices, and forestry workers) can become more effective in cementing the notion of “team” is to address the reality of the individual. Whereas in the military, where a person is often isolated from his home/family life, domestic workers are not. It’s the job of trainers to give young recruits the tools and skills necessary to prevent their work life and home life from blurring. While at home it’s important to take time out for “me,” during crucial times at work, this is not the case. Exercises in differentiating between individuality and teamwork will reinforce to workers when it’s appropriate to put themselves first, and when it’s absolutely mandatory that the team come first. But being able to convey this isn’t an easy task. That’s why some of the most effective training courses throughout Australia, New Zealand and North America are led by professional development experts who focus on leading workshops and seminars in teamwork and mutual dependency.  When you align your training courses with the expertise of a professional, you provide your employees and staff the skills and knowledge necessary to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Photo by: Creative Commons: