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The Difference Between Groups and Teams

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The question is often asked whether a group and a team is the same thing. In both teams and groups, there are major differences as well as similarities. But there are some unique qualities which can be seen in teams:

  • A team is more than just a group with a common aim.
  • In a team, all members are seen as complementary.
  • There is strong collaboration and togetherness.
  • There is a strong commitment from its members and genuine support for each other.
  • The speciality is an ability to work as a team even if the individual members are apart (operating from different places).

The differences between a group and a team can be summarized as follow:



Individual “I” focus

Collective “We” focus

Individual purpose

Common goal

Operates by external rules of order

Operates by own set of team norms

Operates alone

Has linked roles and responsibilities

Individuals have positions of authority

Seeks and gains empowerment

Meets irregularly

Meets regularly

Focuses on information sharing and coordinating

Focuses on problem-solving and process improvement

Has a fixed chairperson

Shares leadership role

Fights to be right

Debates to make sound decisions

Is closed

Open and trusting

May like each other

Shares a strong bond

It is much easier to form a group than a team. If you had a room filled with professional accountants, for example, they could be grouped according to gender, experience, fields of expertise, age, or other common factors. Forming a group based on a certain commonality is not particularly difficult, although the effectiveness of the groups may be variable. A group's interpersonal dynamics can range from complete compatibility to complete intolerance, which could make consensus building very difficult for a leader.

A team, on the other hand, can be much more difficult to form. Members of a team may be selected for their complementary skills, not a single commonality. A business team may for example consist of an accountant, a salesman, a company executive and a secretary. Each member of the team has a purpose and a function within that team, so the overall success depends on a functional interpersonal dynamic.

Click here to view a video that explains the difference between a group and a team in practical terms.