The Vocabulary of Teams

The Vocabulary of Teams

In February, I planned a coffee date with a local friend.

I don’t often allow myself the luxury of a mid-day social break, for various reasons — mostly related to child care and work responsibilities.

But I hadn’t seen Tamara in a while and it was past time for a catch up.

In the course of our conversation, I mentioned my growing business.

I’ve known for awhile that Tamara wanted to work but felt unsure she would find a flexible environment and schedule. Like me, she values time with her daughters. She wants to be available to them and considers that a higher priority right now than working outside the home. (Can I tell you that I LOVE that?)

On my way home from our meeting, I had this flash of vision related to how I want to grow my business.

My vision for this business is two-fold:

I want to help authors and thought leaders grow their online presence and influence, helping them to be wildly successful in using social media to meet their goals.

I want to create job opportunities for people who want flexible work, allowing them to excel professionally while remaining available to their families and finding time to pursue other interests.

Suddenly Weaving Influence expanded in my mind. I thought: “This is far larger than me.”

Shortly after that coffee date with Tamara, she started to work with me in the business. Over the past three months, the business has grown to include two other team members.

As we grow,  I catch myself being unsure about how to talk about the work we do together.

I think it makes most sense to say “I work WITH my team.”

We work together.  They work with me. What I do would be impossible without their support.

Sometimes, though, I find myself starting to say, instead “She works for me.” But I want to shrink back from that. It is true, but although I am the owner of the business, I don’t feel like a boss, exactly, yet, at least not in the negative sense of the word.

I prefer “with” because it communicates respect and honors our relationship. I have chosen my team members because I like working with them but also because I know they add value with their unique talents and contributions — for me and for our clients. We are building this business together.

I face the same question about what vocabulary to use in talking about my relationships with my clients.

Of course, I am working FOR them. But I am also working WITH them. We work together. We are collaborators and partners. I am supporting what they do but I am also working alongside them.

As I type this, it makes sense that WITH is the correct word, always.

I work with my team and we work with our clients.

My goal is to help my clients — and my team — to become wildly successful.

Tell me something! Am I missing anything when I frame work in terms of “with” instead of “for”? What vocabulary do you use to talk about your work with your team?

Thanks to Kerri Varner of Bleu in Love Photography for the wonderful photos. Would you give her a “like” on Facebook? The only sad thing about this photo is that it only includes 3/4 of the Weaving Influence team. 

Filed As:  teams, vision

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Love this post, Becky! Our language does influence our actions and the idea of working “for” other someone implies hierarchy and power as opposed to working “with” them, which implies mutuality.

    It’s fascinating to watch your new business grow and unfold in real time and to hear your thinking as a leader. I hope you keep posting on your experience because I think it will be really helpful for others.

    • Thanks, Jesse! I’ve learned much from you in this regard. Thank you for your consistent encouragement and guidance!

  • Becky, you are missing nothing by my books. “We are collaborators and partners. I am supporting what they do but I am also working alongside them.”

    Things are really moving thick and fast and that is good to see.

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement, Thabo! It’s past time for a catch up. When are you coming for coffee? 🙂

  • Hi Becky,

    Thank you for a great posting and your sharing. I hope that one day you will write a longer one telling us about the amazing three people you work with.

    I struggled with the “boss” issue for years. Even with a first report I worked with every day for ten years. The truth is that for her and for my other employees, it was important to them that I be seen and to be the “boss”.

    While you collaborate well with all of your team, you will now or in the future have to make hard “boss” decisions. Decisions from salary to discipline to even the possibility of letting someone go. While you want to build a culture of collaboration, you are the business owner at as such you have to include boss in the many hats that you wear. As much for your team as for you.



    • David — thanks. I’d love to write about my growing team. We plan to add some bios to the website and more photos soon.

      I hope that I can grow into the “boss” role, and I fully expect some growing pains along the way. I’m glad to have great friends like you to learn from along the way.


  • I love working with you Becky!

    • And I love working with you!

      Thanks Whitney! 🙂

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