The Power of a Team | COVID-19 Response


Everyone has heard the word. Regardless of how you specifically define it, we all have a similar understanding of what it means. It is a group of people working together to achieve a common goal.

Teamwork is one of the most powerful demonstrations of unity: individuals supporting one another while having a clear objective and rallying together to achieve a goal. Many associate teamwork with sports. For example, last year our beloved St. Louis Blues accomplished something that most people thought was impossible based on their record in January 2019. They came together when the odds were against them and became Stanley Cup Champions.

We often see teamwork demonstrated with our military as well. Teams (we call them units) of men and women from all different races and backgrounds come together to train and support each other unconditionally. Whether here in the United States or in a faraway land, they find ways to achieve goals as a team.

Companies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations (both big and small) are united by their mission statements. Their teams work hard each day to provide goods and services to people who need them.

Teamwork is incredible because we see what can be accomplished when we work together, and it inspires us. There are tens of thousands of books, stories and movies about teamwork because it is powerful. It makes us feel good and gives us a sense of purpose. Above all, it works.

Teamwork is Vital Now More than Ever

We are all now faced with a new challenge – trying to remain a part of a team, or for many of us, trying to play and participate on many different teams, all while not being able to see one another. There are far fewer books on how to do this successfully, but the foundations of what makes a team successful have NOT changed and we all get to choose how we show up as members of these teams. So my question for everyone is, simply, how are you choosing to show up?

You may be working onsite at an essential organization like a grocery store or hospital, working from home, or you may have recently been laid off. Whether you’re filling a new role of “substitute teacher” for your kiddos, caring for an aged family member, working full-time, or juggling many of these responsibilities all at once, how you choose to show up matters. Your attitude, mannerisms and how you choose to deal with this new normal and all of its stressors, can be far more contagious than the coronavirus.

Teamwork requires commitment. Are you committed to making this work? Are you committed to finding answers when the situation changes, sometimes every day? Are you committed to maintaining an optimistic attitude that, while difficult and trying, we WILL get through this if everyone plays their part? Are you committed to remaining calm, for yourself, your family, your children, and your co-workers? Will you give everyone a little grace, pack your patience and just be kind to others? Will you respect that everyone started this pandemic at a different place? Will you listen to learn how best to support those around you? If you are – thank you.

These basic foundations of commitment, attitude, leadership and mutual respect are what will ensure we not only make it through this but emerge stronger together as a result of our shared experience. These foundations will also help us all keep calm and when we are calm, we can focus our energy and efforts in the most positive and productive manner.

Teamwork at the Foodbank

At the St. Louis Area Foodbank, there is no question that we have made changes. We have people working from home. To ensure the safety of our volunteers and staff, we have reduced the number of volunteers per shift that help us prepare food boxes and repack produce in our Volunteer Center. We have posted signs everywhere asking people not to enter the building if they are sick, have been sick, have traveled, or have been exposed to someone who has traveled in the past 14 days.

We are doing more deliveries of food to our agencies and partners but have modified distribution methods. We are packing emergency food boxes that are usually reserved for what we call “disaster response” – which in our world means tornadoes or floods. These boxes will be distributed immediately to help the thousands of families that were struggling before any of us ever heard of COVID-19, along with families that never expected to have to ask for assistance.

Yes, things are different today than they were just two weeks ago. They will continue to change and evolve, this much is certain. I am also certain that the phenomenal team at the Foodbank is dedicated. They are committed. We have two calls a day as leaders, so we can discuss what is happening, what is changing, and what we can do next to protect our team and serve our community. They are working around the clock to ensure that we are continuing to bring food and resources into our facility so we can sort and distribute it across the 26 counties in Missouri and Illinois that are looking to us for food and hope.

We Are All a Team

My message is simple – we will make it through this – together – as a team. Yes, it will require change, getting out of our comfort zone, shelter-in-place orders and whatever else lies ahead, but our region, our state and our nation WILL make it through this. Right now, each of us has the responsibility to figure out this new normal, as part of a new and larger team, to figure out how to take care of one another, support one another and rally around one another so we can all make it through COVID-19 – as a team. Maybe it is checking in on someone that recently was laid off or furloughed, offering to pick up food for an elderly neighbor while you are out, or checking in on a co-worker to see how they are doing- both physically and mentally. The most important principle to remember every day is how you are showing up.

Where are your levels of C.A.L.M.?

Commitment – Do you have the courage you will need for the day?

Attitude – Are you staying positive?

Leadership – Are you ready to be a leader and support the leaders around you? Are you ready to show up at any moment for your family, your co-workers and those depending on you?

Mutual respect – Do you have patience? (Be sure to take deep breaths, pause to rest and recharge and commit to treating everyone with kindness!)

If you are – then you are ready for this….you are ready to win….you are doing everything the best way that you can – now bring it in team (but please stay 6 feet apart!) – GO TEAM GO!!!!


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