What I learned about Teamwork from YCSAR 2016 Leadership Training

Yamhill County (Oregon) Search and Rescue is an organization of volunteers who train to quickly and effectively look for and rescue or recover lost persons, and respond to disasters.
  1. We work best together as a team when we know each other.
    When we are called out for a search, it's not the time to be social - a search for a missing person is serious business, where training and teamwork and focus are critical. We learn how to work well as a team by knowing each other before we arrive for a search.
  2. We work best together as a team when we play together. Part 1
    It can't all be about training - our brains and bodies need a break. Sometimes that means taking a nap, and sometimes that means goofing off. And let us not forget that we learn our lessons best when we are also having fun.
  3. We work best together as a team when we play together. Part 2
    It might feel like training is a drag at first. You have to give up a sunny day or gear up for a cold and rainy day when you would rather be somewhere else. You have to "get your hours" to stay certified and be a member of the group. So we might forget that training is the fun part. Common skills and training experiences are necessary, but it can also be fun if you allow it and if the people doing the training make it fun for each other. Attitude determines the outcome.
  4. We work best together as a team when we understand our strengths and our limits.
    We train so that we can be competent in every position on a team, but in training together we also learn who excels at certain jobs and who will be relied upon in the field when the stakes are highest. We also learn our weaknesses, the things we must improve, or the things we just can't claim to be able to do reliably under pressure.
  5. We work best together as a team when we understand team dynamics.
    Undertanding your personal, supporting role as part of a team is what makes or breaks your value to the team as a whole. My personal understanding, confirmed by this "Leadership Training" is that I am best suited as a follower.
  6. We work best together as a team when we know who we work best with
    Sometimes we do not get to choose who we are teamed with, but if being a "Team Leader" means that I will inevitably be separated from the amazing people I trained with this weekend, the people I just learned to like and trust, the people who I know I will work best with, the people who would each make highly respectable Team Leaders, then I hereby decline the role of leadership. I plan to be a great follower.
  7. We work best together when we are well-fed and hydrated.
    I cannot emphasize this enough: great food, hot coffee/tea, plenty of water and snacks are an important part of keeping the teams happy. When we are stressed-out (or bored, waiting for the next activity/ assignment), an endless supply of cookies could make the difference between a willing and a working team.
  8. We work best together as a team when we are appreciated
    It is no secret that praise builds confidence and criticism tears it down. Learning requires both in at least equal measure, if not, in favor of praise. If one person, particularly a person in a position of authority, denigrates or fails to appreciate a volunteer, it has the potential to destroy the morale of the enitre team. To those who have the power to build up or tear down, I say, be a builder, and if you have nothing nice to say, try saying "Thank You" once in a while.
  9. We work best together as a team when we respect our leaders.
    Some of our leaders are easily respectable because they are likable. The rest have to work at it and earn it. Leadership training helps us bridge the gap. YCSAR has amazing leadership potential in our ranks, and that has nothing to do with number of years or level of experience - becoming a great leader for fellow volunteers requires a committment to do the work, self-evaluation, patience, professionalism, listening skills and a willingness to collaborate.