How to Be a Team Player: Quotes From Famous People on Teamwork

Updated on November 1, 2017
CatherineGiordano profile image

Inspirational essays and articles, with a touch of humor, are a favorite topic for Ms. Giordano, a writer and public speaker.

Teamwork is important in everyday life.
Teamwork is important in everyday life. | Source

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

We have all heard the expression “teamwork makes the dream work.” It means that working together with others, as part of a team, is the best way to achieve a goal.

We are constantly working together as a team—in our home, in social groups, in school, in business, and most of all, in sports. In fact, one of the primary reasons we encourage young kids to get involved in team sports is so that they will learn teamwork.

Teams are a very important part of our lives, but have you ever sat down and thought about what qualities are required for a good team? Apparently, many people have because I found hundreds of quotes from famous people about teamwork. I’ve taken the best of these quotes and organized them into a few general categories.

I hope these notes and quotes help you to understand teamwork better and make you a better team player.

A team helps everyone to achieve more.
A team helps everyone to achieve more. | Source

What Is Teamwork?

Teamwork is essential in many aspects of life. Consequently, it is important to understand what it means to be part of a team and the meaning of teamwork.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives teamwork a very simple definition:

“The combined action of a group, especially when effective and efficient” gives a more detailed definition:

“a cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause”

The Merriman-Webster Dictionary gives even more detail in its definition.

“work done by several associates with each doing a part, but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole.”

Obviously, teamwork requires a group of people and a goal. But teamwork is more than just people working together to achieve a common goal. Teamwork requires:

  • Individual contributions from each member of the group
  • Cohesion, collaboration, cooperation, and coordination (i.e. teamwork)
  • Group members making themselves subordinate to the group
  • Team Spirit

Is a Team Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts?

Teams can accomplish what an individual alone cannot do. Something magical happens when individuals come together as a team—they can accomplish so much more than could be accomplished if each of those individuals put out the same amount of effort working alone.

Helen Keller: Author, Lecturer

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Steve Jobs: Founder of Apple

“Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people."

Ryunosuke Satoro: Japanese Poet

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

A team is much more than the sum of its parts.
A team is much more than the sum of its parts. | Source

Why Are Individual Contributions Important?

Each individual member of a team has a specific role or a specific function. These different individual contributions determine the success of the team. A team needs members with diverse skills. Each member contributes by doing what he does best.

It may sometimes seem like some team members are more important than others. However, it’s important to remember that everybody on the team is essential to the success of the team.

Doug Floyd: Unknown

“There is no harmony if everyone sings the same note.”

H. E. Luccock: Methodist minister

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”

Robert Schumann: Composer

If we were all determined to play the first violin, we should never have an ensemble. Therefore, respect every musician in his proper place.”

Why Is Coordination, Cooperation, and Collaboration Important?

The magic of a team is teamwork. There is coordination, cooperation, and collaboration among the team members.The team plans for success by developing a strategy and then working together to achieve the goals.

Swahili proverb

“A boat doesn't go forward if each one is rowing their own way."

Babe Ruth: Baseball player

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

Andrew Carnegie: Motivational speaker

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision; the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

Ogwo David Emenike: Management consultant

“Synergy without strategy results to waste of energy.”

Working together can get you where you want to go.
Working together can get you where you want to go. | Source

Why Must the Individual Be Subordinate To the Group?

In order for the team to be a success, the individual must put his own ego aside; he must not seek to shine, to be a star; he must simply perform his function

This is very evident in sports. One player sacrifices his own chance to score and gets the ball to another player who is better situated so that player can score the points for the team.


“There no “I” in team.”


“Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we.”

Bud Wilkinson: Football Coach

"If a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team."

Mia Hamm: Soccer player, Olympic Champion

”I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team. I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion."

Paul Bear Bryant: Football Coach

“The team must have a feeling of unity; every player must put the team first ahead of personal glory."

Vince Lombardi: Football Coach

Build for your team a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another and of strength to be derived by unity."

Mike Krzyzewski: Basketball coach

"To me, teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one. You become selfless."


“Don’t aspire to be the best on the team. Aspire to be the best for the team.”

Why Is Team Spirit Important?

Team spirit might be called the psyche of the team. It includes motivation, but it also includes the way that team members relate to each other. There needs to be open and honest communication and trust. There needs to be recognition for a job well done. There needs to be a desire to confront mistakes, learn from them, and improve.

Dennis Kinlaw: Theologian

“Teamplayer: One who unites others toward a shared destiny through sharing information and ideas, empowering others, and developing trust."

Billy Martin: Former manager, New York Yankees

“There’s nothing greater in the world than when somebody on the team does something good, and everybody gathers around to pat him on the back.”

Joe Paterno: Football Coach

"When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality."

Henry Ford: Founder of Ford Motor Company

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."

Simon Sinek: Motivational speaker, Author

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.”

Vince Lombardi: Football coach

"Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn't do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another."

Mark Sanborn: Motivation speaker, Author

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.”

Ken Blanchard: Management expert, Author

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

Mark Sanborn: Motivation speaker, Author

”The greatest danger a team faces isn't that it won't become successful, but that it will, and then cease to improve."

What is your preference?

Some sports can be played one-on-one or as part of a team. Which do you prefer?

See results

© 2017 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments.

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    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      You make a very good point. Getting a bunch of people to behave like a "well-oiled machine" with all the parts working together to produce a result requires a lot of practice and motivation.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      21 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      It is wonderful to be with a team when it works well. Nothing can beat it in terms of performance but it is hard to achieve.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ann Carr: Thanks for sharing your story about your granddaughter. The quote about harmony is a favorite of mine also.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      21 months ago from SW England

      Great quotes here, Catherine! My favourite is: “There is no harmony if everyone sings the same note.”

      It's great when a team works well together. As a teacher I've been in quite a few teams and led some; I know it's not always easy!

      My granddaughter is fast becoming a wonderful team player as she seems to have a natural talent for getting on with others and being tactful, with humour.

      Thanks for the great read this morning.


    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Patricia Scott: Thanks for your comment. You pick for the best quote on teamwork is right on the mark. A simple change of preposition can make all the difference.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      21 months ago from sunny Florida

      It has always been my contention that we do not need to try to reinvent the wheel with our words...IF someone has already said it better, with more clarity, and more succinctly .

      The quote that most sticks with me is this one...“Don’t aspire to be the best on the team. Aspire to be the best for the team.”

      Excellent collection.....Angels are on the way to you this early morning ps

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Barbara R: Thanks for your comment. Teamwork is something we all do in our daily lives, whether it is planning a potluck or coaching a little league team, but we seldom think about what the components of teamwork are. I wanted to call attention to what makes a team work.

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      22 months ago from Templeton, CA

      That's quite a collection of quotes on teamwork. I learned most about teamwork when playing basketball in high school. Now I appreciate it in my Facebook blogging groups.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Linda Crampton: Thank you for your kind words. I like to collect quotes because they are a good way to remind myself of important values.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      22 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love the quotes that you've shared, Catherine. Your article is a great reminder about the value of teamwork.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      FlorishAnyway: I did it. I tweeted to Donald Trump. Here is the tweet:

      @realDonaldTrump "Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we." --Anonymous.

      My twitter handle is talksallabout You can like and retweet.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      FlourishAnyway: You got me laughing. maybe I will tweet a quote to Trump. It would do him good to learn a little about teamwork. Thanks for the idea.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      22 months ago from USA

      I used to teach small group behavior in college. It’s funny how some people excel at working with others collaboratively while others resist it with all their might. Immediately when I saw this article I thought Trump could learn a thing or two if you could pick your favorite quote and tweet it to him. He wouldn’t have the attention span to read an article but maybe 140 characters.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks, Dora, for your comment. I agree that a team that is bound together by love is bound to be a winning team. So far in the comments, every one names a different quote as their favorite. I find that very interesting.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Eric Dierker: You always write inspirational essays so I am particularly pleased that you found my essay inspirational. The teamwork that occurs within a family is extremely important. I need to search out some quotes for that.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Nicely done as always. I have played a bunch of teams sports from Mountain climbing to football. I have coached a bunch. And I have been captain several times.

      The best teamwork that I am so sinfully proud of is my family. Work together with a common goal and no mountain cannot be moved.

      Thanks for this reflection.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      22 months ago from The Caribbean

      "Because they loved one another." This is the best motivation for team work. All great quotes, but this by Lombardi is my favorite. Thanks.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Mahaveer Sanglikar: I'm glad to hear that you found this collection of teamwork quotes inspiring and motivating. I think we all need to be reminded sometimes. I wrote this so that I myself would better understand the value of teamwork.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Peg Cole: Thanks for your comment about the value of teamwork. I agree with you that quotes like these inspire us to be better team players.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      22 months ago from Pune, India

      These quotes are very inspiring. They motivate us.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      22 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      These are great words from a lot of people whose success is well established. I really like the Swahili proverb and the Andrew Carnegie quote.


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