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What Is the Difference Between a Team and a Group?

Teamwork may be required in a variety of fields to produce better results.
Team building is often a key component of a corporation.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
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Many people used the words team and group interchangeably, but there are actually a number of differences between them in real world applications. A number of leadership courses designed for the corporate world stress the importance of team building, not group building, for instance. A team's strength depends on the commonality of purpose and interconnectivity between individual members, whereas a group's strength may come from sheer volume or willingness to carry out a single leader's commands.

It is often 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 may be selected for their complementary skills, not a single commonality. A business team may consist of an accountant, a salesman, a company executive and a secretary, for example. Each member has a purpose and a function, so the overall success depends on a functional interpersonal dynamic. There is usually not as much room for conflict when working together in this way.

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The success of a group is often measured by its final results, not necessarily the process used to arrive at those results. A group may use equal parts discussion, argumentation and peer pressure to guide individual members towards a consensus. A trial jury would be a good example of a group in action, not a team. The foreperson plays the leadership role, attempting to turn 11 other opinions into one unanimous decision. Since the jury members usually don't know one another personally, there is rarely an effort to build a team dynamic. The decision process for a verdict is the result of group cooperation.

A team, by comparison, does not rely on "groupthink" to arrive at its conclusions. An accident investigation team would be a good example of a real world team dynamic. Each member is assigned to evaluate one aspect of the accident. The expert on crash scene reconstruction does not have to consult with the expert on forensic evidence, for example. The members use their individual abilities to arrive at a cohesive result. There may be a team member working as a facilitator for the process, but not necessarily a specific leader.

Group building can literally take only a few minutes, but team building can take years. Individual members of a group often have the ability to walk away when their services or input become unnecessary. A team member's absence can seriously hamper the abilities of other members to perform effectively, so it is not uncommon for individual members to form an exceptionally strong allegiance to the team as a whole. An elite military unit such as the US Navy SEALS or the Army Rangers could be considered examples of team building at its best.

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Discuss this Article

anon196892
Post 64

@anon131693: I suppose if a team were large enough, it could also contain several groups within itself. Those groups, however, would still be operating with a singular function or focus. A criminal investigation, for example, might require several teams of experts-- medical forensics, ballistics, detectives, crime scene investigators, and so on, but an individual team, such as detectives, may consist of a group of law enforcement officers.

Individual members may not have worked together before, which would meet the definition of a group, but they're all working towards the same goal (develop the criminal case), so they would also be considered a team.

anon160648
Post 60

Really enjoyed this article, it really gave me good insight as to which direction I wanted to go on my paper. Thanks a bunch.

anon132791
Post 56

And to think I couldn't understand the difference. Thank you for making it easy.

anon131693
Post 54

Can there be a group inside a team? or vice versa?

anon129717
Post 53

I wish students would take the information as shared and learn to place it in their own words. For example, in one class - a measurable number of students all typed "A good example of a group would be a jury" which was traced back to this site. While this information provides you good direction, you will want to used peer reviewed sources.

anon123227
Post 52

Well presented and very simply put. It has provided the meanings of the two and their differences. It has helped me greatly understand the two words and provided me with the material to answer a question in a leadership course. Thank so very much!

anon111020
Post 47

great article. exactly what i was looking for. thanks!

anon101344
Post 46

this is what we need. thanks.

anon101284
Post 45

Great article. I am doing a paper on behavioral management and it helped me clarify the two. Thank you!

anon92621
Post 44

thank you indeed, it's very helpful.

anon90856
Post 42

Excellently thought out. very simple to grasp the concept. Thanks a lot. Andrew

anon90381
Post 41

Thank you, thank you.

anon88820
Post 40

Thank you. this article really helped me to actually understand the difference between a group and a team. Very, very nicely represented.

anon85148
Post 37

very correct. Now i understand the difference between a group and a team.

anon78871
Post 35

it's very good. thanks.

anon76124
Post 34

It is really correct. I appreciate you!

By Eugene

anon75557
Post 33

Easy to understand the difference between team and groups.

anon75044
Post 32

really good one.

anon74280
Post 31

good article. one thing i want clarify that article shows in the fourth paragraph.in team there is no specific leader. i saw in organization there is a team leader in their team where role of team leader to facilitate for attainment of shared vision.

anon71596
Post 30

Really perfect definition and examples for all the readers.

anon71428
Post 29

Awesome one. very useful. thanks for the article.

anon69392
Post 28

thanks. Very good article.

anon68091
Post 27

good things.

anon67931
Post 26

I'm sorry, but University of Phoenix facilitators, nor electronic readings broke this subject down like this. Thank you so much for distinguishing the differences between the two, because i was struggling. Great job! you rock!

anon60137
Post 24

the concept of team (i.e. team work in factories) is a socialist concept, strange for capitalist societies (western societies), but any way they exploited that concept very well. GonzaloLinan

anon58826
Post 23

Very clear and concise. (straight to the point) Thank you.

anon56434
Post 22

very good article.

anon54576
Post 21

Good article!

anon51196
Post 20

This is a good article on groups & teams. Simple and elegant. -Prof Sharma

anon48958
Post 17

awesome article!

anon47885
Post 16

I am also a UOP student, and disagree with the previous comments. The powerpoint and books provided by UOP almost identical to this information. (message to the UOP students, please pay attention in class.) Thank you website! You have been very helpful.

anon45394
Post 15

awesome definition of group and team. nice!

anon44867
Post 13

good article and easy to understand.

anon42911
Post 12

Really good article with good example. easy to understand.

anon42824
Post 11

Good article with relevant illustrations.

anon42517
Post 10

A very good article that clearly distinguishes between team and group. My doubts got clarified. Thanks!

anon42054
Post 9

great article with great examples.

anon40618
Post 8

Great example using the trial jury. I am also a UOP student and I agree with the previous post.

anon39369
Post 7

I have been reading several books recommended by the University of Phoenix in regards to this subject. Not one of the books listed explained the answer to this question as well as your explanation. Thanks a million.

anon38767
Post 6

I have liked the article so much. It is so sensible and has gotten me what I wanted. Big up. -- Kagoye Geofrey

anon28582
Post 5

Very good article.

anon24787
Post 3

awesome approach to distinguish group and a team. best article in the world on this topic.

anon24617
Post 2

This is really perfect. Thanks for posting this article.

anon4811
Post 1

awesome article. most organizational behaviour books don't make a decent distinction.

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